Oak Ridge officials on Thursday approved a re-subdivision that was required for the $80 million project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall.
The re-subdivision includes 10 different lots, including one larger parcel in the center of the 58-acre site and other smaller lots. Officials said the re-subdivision was necessary for financial considerations, and it is a condition for closing on the property.
Oak Ridge Community Development Director Kathryn Baldwin said the city has received notice the remediation is complete on the interior of the mostly empty mall, and construction drawings have been submitted for three buildings expected to receive permits. The new buildings could be erected next to Belk and in the area where Sears is now.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission approved the re-subdivision in an 8-0 vote during a special meeting Thursday. Planning commissioners present were Chair Stephen Whitson, Vice Chair Austin Lance, Secretary Claudia Lever, and members Charlie Hensley, Sharon Kohler, Jane Shelton, Hans Vogel, and Todd Wilson.
The Planning Commission has previously approved a site plan for Main Street Oak Ridge. Most conditions on the site plan were related to electrical design, Baldwin said.
Officials said they are still working on utility disconnections at the site. One of the issues has been how to disconnect utilities that would no longer be used, while continuing to ensure that utilities are still supplied to Belk and JCPenney, the two remaining anchors.
The first phase of construction at Main Street Oak Ridge is expected to last about 10 to 11 months.
As proposed, Main Street Oak Ridge would include a new entrance on Rutgers Avenue. The hotel could be built along Wilson Street, near O’Reilly Auto Parts. There would be an outparcel between Cinemark Tinseltown Theater and Bank of America. The residential units could be near JCPenney.
The existing enclosed space between Belk and JCPenney, the two remaining anchors, would be demolished, although those two stores would remain. Demolition work could start at Sears and proceed counterclockwise around the site. Construction could follow a similar pattern.
RealtyLink, which is based in Greenville, South Carolina, has said it still plans to have stores open for seven of the new tenants by the 2016 holiday shopping season. It’s not clear when the company, which has only been involved since September, might close on the purchase of the property.
RealtyLink has previously said Main Street Oak Ridge could include about 200 residential units, which could be in four- to five-story buildings with retail on the ground floor.
The project could be complete by December 2018.
In November, Neil Wilson, RealtyLink principal, said four of the new stores expected to be open by Christmas 2016 would be adjacent to Belk and two would be adjacent to Walmart.
Wilson declined to name the stores, but he said the mixed-use development could include a sporting goods store, a cosmetics retailer, one or two apparel merchants, and a 20,000-square-foot electronics shop that has signed a letter of intent. There could be a total of about 150,000 square feet of retail in those stores. There are roughly 130,000 square feet of retail at JCPenney and Belk, which will have a new facade and entrance.
At that time, Wilson said demolition could take four months. RealtyLink planned to turn over the seven new stores to retailers in September 2016, and they could open in October, in time for the holiday season.
Small stores could open later.
Main Street Oak Ridge could have a total of 460,000 square feet of retail, including Belk and JCPenney. That’s an increase of about 60,000 square feet, compared to what the previous developer, Crosland Southeast, had proposed. RealtyLink said last fall that about 300,000 square feet is already “spoken for” through confirmed leases and letters of intent from national retailers.
The Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board, Oak Ridge City Council, Anderson County Commission, and state officials have approved a $13 million tax increment financing, or TIF, package that will be used for the redevelopment. The TIF, which has had some minor changes since RealtyLink took over, would help cover development costs using new property tax revenues generated at the site.
RealtyLink has had to re-survey the property, and new survey stakes, marked with pink survey ribbons, are very apparent around the property. RealtyLink has had geotechnical staff on site doing core borings, and they have worked on completing the environmental work.
See previous Main Street Oak Ridge stories here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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