Note: This story was updated at 1:15 p.m.
The Oak Ridge Public Works Department was cutting and plugging an unused fire line near the former Sears store at the former Oak Ridge Mall on Thursday morning, preparing for the demolition of the former mall and construction of Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre mixed-use redevelopment that will replace it.
About 4,000 feet of construction fencing was put up Tuesday and Wednesday around the unused enclosed space between the mall’s two remaining anchors, Belk and JCPenney. That fencing was erected before the start of demolition, which could start next week, according to RealtyLink, the Greenville, South Carolina, company redeveloping the property.
A groundbreaking has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 20.
Water meters on unused lines or areas of the mall that are being demolished were disconnected on Monday and Tuesday at the request of the developer, said Rick Irwin, Oak Ridge Public Works operations and maintenance manager.
Fire lines going into the building in the areas being demolished are being cut and capped for demolition, Irwin said. They were left in place for fire protection until they had to be removed for demolition.
The contractor is abandoning old water and sewer lines and adding new water and sewer lines for the new development.
The utility work has been a major part of the planning for the redevelopment. Determining which electrical, sewer, and water lines are no longer used and can be disconnected—without affecting service to Belk and JCPenney—has been a significant issue. Some of the utilities for the anchors are intertwined with portions of the former mall that need to be demolished. For example, in March, Oak Ridge retail consultant Ray Evans said there are sewer laterals that serve Belk and 23 other former stores.
Other workers have been on the site this month as well, including RealtyLink executives; the demolition contractor; and an electrical contractor.
RealtyLink closed on the property on Thursday, June 30, purchasing it for $6.3 million from Oak Ridge City Center LLC. The new owner is TN Oak Ridge Rutgers LLC, a company set up by RealtyLink.
RealtyLink executives were in Oak Ridge last week, and among other things, they met with the city staff and contractors and subcontractors to discuss demolition and construction.
The Main Street Oak Ridge redevelopment could cost $75 million total, and it could include retailers, restaurants, residential units, and possibly a hotel.
Belk and JCPenney, which remain open and accessible, will be part of Main Street Oak Ridge. The existing enclosed space between them will be demolished.
New stores that have been announced as part of the redevelopment are Dick’s Sporting Goods, Electronic Express, Maurice’s, PetSmart, Rack Room, Rue 21, T.J. Maxx, and Ulta.
Construction of new stores that are expected to open in the spring of 2017 could start near Belk in October.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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