Note: This story was last updated at 9:20 a.m. July 17.
Oak Ridge officials will discuss site plans for two more new businesses on Thursday. The first is Panda Express, a restaurant, and the second is TownePlace Suites by Marriott, a hotel.
There have now been more than a dozen new businesses announced in Oak Ridge so far this year.
The Panda Express, a fast casual Chinese restaurant, would be at the site of the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant on South Illinois Avenue, in front of Walmart and next to Comfort Inn. The developer wants to take the property and divide it into two parcels, with the Panda Express on one lot and possibly two to three retail stores in one building on the other.
The four-story TownPlace Suites would be on 2.6 acres between East Main Street and Rutgers Avenue on the south side of Wilson Street. That property is on the northeast side of Main Street Oak Ridge, near JCPenney at the former Oak Ridge Mall.
The site plans will be discussed during a work session for the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Planning commissioners will also discuss a revised site plan for the first phase of Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre project to redevelop the former mall. A groundbreaking has been scheduled for that project at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The developer of the Panda Express is Rudd Seeley Wallis LLC, the Nashville company that developed the shopping center on South Illinois Avenue that includes Chipotle, Aspen Dental, and Pie Five Pizza, said Ray Evans, Oak Ridge retail consultant.
The proposed Panda Express/retail development at the former Ruby Tuesday site would include access to the right-turn-in, right-turn-out entrance and exit at Subway on South Illinois Avenue, Evans said.
Chander Bhateja would be the owner, developer, and franchisee at the TownePlace Suites, Evans said. He said Bhateja owns other hotels, including a Home2 Suites in west Knox County.
The revised phase-one site plan for Main Street Oak Ridge would be extended to include three more buildings, including PetSmart and Electronic Express, and a section of property at the southeast corner of South Illinois Avenue and South Tulane Avenue, where there is a detention pond now.
Besides Panda Express and TownePlace Suites, other businesses announced this year are Calhoun’s on the Oak Ridge waterfront off Melton Lake Drive, Hobby Lobby at the former Kroger on South Illinois Avenue, a Sears Hometown Store on Fairbanks Road in east Oak Ridge, Swifty’s Atomic Bar and Grill on South Illinois Avenue, and eight new stores at Main Street Oak Ridge: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Electronic Express, Maurice’s, PetSmart, Rack Room Shoes, Rue 21, T.J. Maxx, and Ulta.
There have also been ribbon-cuttings for Fast Pace Urgent Care on South Illinois Avenue, a new ORNL Federal Credit Union branch on Rutgers Avenue, Neighborhood Urgent Care Clinic on Oak Ridge Turnpike, Amanda’s: Men’s Hair Cut Well on East Tennessee Avenue, and Renew You Med Spa on South Tulane Avenue.
In what’s viewed as an encouraging sign by many, there have been even more new businesses opening in Oak Ridge in the past few years, including more than a dozen additional retailers, restaurants, stores, and service businesses in shopping centers and retail areas on South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge Turnpike, and Emory Valley Road, and at the Kroger shopping center at the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and North Illinois Avenue.
The Thursday work session of the Planning Commission starts at 5:30 p.m. July 21 in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Training Room.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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