CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The North Carolina firm that has been replaced as master developer at Main Street Oak Ridge, the project to redevelop the former mall, said it has invested more than $1 million in the project and is “sorely disappointed” that it won’t be able to finish it.
Crosland Southeast, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said it has been engaged in more than “two years of tireless work,” and the project was in its final stages.
“This was one of the most difficult turnaround developments that we have encountered or seen, and we are sorely disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to finish what we started,” said Tim Sittema, managing partner of Crosland Southeast. “We had just negotiated the last piece of an incredibly complicated project with numerous moving parts, and had invested well over a million dollars into making this project a success. The situation is complicated. Nevertheless, we hope for the best outcome for the community of Oak Ridge. We have very much enjoyed working with city staff and community leaders.”
Oak Ridge City Center LLC, the current owners of the property, announced Monday that RealtyLink, a South Carolina real estate development firm, will replace Crosland Southeast as the master developer of the 60-acre Main Street Oak Ridge project. RealtyLink is based in Greenville, South Carolina.
But it wasn’t clear who requested the change or why, and officials declined to comment or were unavailable to comment on that question.
“RealtyLink first showed interest in the project as early as 2012,” said Steve Arnsdorff, the chief manager for Oak Ridge City Center LLC. “We are delighted that they have had continuing interest and are now able to assume the position of the previous developer.”
RealtyLink currently has nearly two million square feet of space in various stages of development including The River Landing, a 16-acre retail project on Winfield Dunn Parkway in Sevierville.
Asked whether Crosland Southeast is working on a transition with the current owner or the new developer, Sittema said in a press release, “we are in early discussions with the apparent new developer, who has made a positive initial impression.”
In addition to Greenville, South Carolina, RealtyLink has offices in Charleston, South Carolina; Birmingham, Alabama; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Main Street would redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall, which is now known as the Oak Ridge City Center.
In the Monday press release from Oak Ridge City Center, Neil Wilson, a principal with RealtyLink, indicated that his firm intends to move forward quickly with the same plan and same tenant mix as had been previously proposed.
“We continue to be committed to the community and to the tenants with the goal being completing the first phase in time for the Christmas season 2016,” Wilson said. “We look forward to working with the community in an effort to develop a truly great town center for the city.”
City officials said there shouldn’t be any significant changes required in the approvals already granted to the project by Oak Ridge, Anderson County, and the Industrial Development Board.
“This project is ready to move forward,” Watson said. “Unless there is some kind of substantial change, we are in good shape.”
As proposed, Main Street Oak Ridge would redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall in a $80 million project that could include a mix of retail, restaurants, and residential units, possibly including a hotel. The vacant enclosed space between the two remaining anchors, JCPenney and Belk, would be demolished, although those two stores would remain.
Crosland Southeast had announced a series of steps this year, including pre-demolition activities and bid reviews, and roughly $500,000 worth of pledges from six local employers to help cover public infrastructure costs.
In March, Crosland Southeast announced it had signed the first anchor store lease. In May, they announced that Atlanta-based MDC development group, through its affiliated company Canterfield Hotel Group LLC, will build a new 120-room hotel at the site.
The company had spent significant time on the project during the past few years, including to gain approval of a $13 million tax increment financing, or TIF, package that would help cover development costs using new property tax revenues generated at the site. The change in property taxes in a designated economic impact area would be used to repay the TIF loan.
A site plan for Main Street Oak Ridge was approved by the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission in August, and officials said then that an application had been submitted for a demolition permit.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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