The new sign is up and the new parking lot paved at Belk as work proceeds quickly at Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre project to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall.
With the exception of Belk and JCPenney, the mall has been demolished, and there has significant progress on the sites where new stores will be built.
First, on Saturday, concrete stands in the parking lot in front of Belk were almost finished, and some lighting poles and fixtures were installed, said Ray Evans, retail consultant for the City of Oak Ridge. The goal has been to finish the new Belk entrance and its new parking lot by Thanksgiving.
Second, there was work on piping for interior utilities where Electronic Express and PetSmart will be located between JCPenney and Walmart on South Rutgers Avenue.
Third, the pad had been completed and a stone base put down where Dick’s Sporting Goods and T.J. Maxx will be built between Walmart and the U.S. Post Office on South Tulane Avenue, in the area of the former Sears department store.
Fourth, the site where a four-story, 81-room TownePlace Suites will be built on 2.6 acres at the intersection of South Rutgers Avenue and Wilson Street, next to JCPenney, was almost ready to turn over, Evans said. Utilities, grading work, and storm drains were complete, he said. One task remaining as of Saturday: have the city remove an overhead power line along Rutgers Avenue.
And, fifth, crews are converting a former detention pond at the corner of South Illinois and South Tulane avenues to a lot that can be developed. The piping work is complete there, Evans said. The detention pond has been moved a bit inside Main Street Oak Ridge, near Taco Bell and Golden Oak Buffet.
Once the new Belk entrance is open, the department store can close its southern entrance, which opens onto a small parking lot next to the post office. Four new shops will be built in the area now occupied by part of that parking lot: Maurice’s, Rack Room Shoes, Rue 21, and Ulta.
Evans, who has helped shepherd the project on behalf of the city, said he drives by Main Street Oak Ridge twice a day, and he can see progress twice a day.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a construction project more organized,” said Evans, a former chief executive officer of engineering firm Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon Inc. who said he has visited hundreds of construction sites.
He praised the work of Vannoy Construction and its subcontractors.
“Those guys take every opportunity to make progress,” Evans said. “I’ve been very impressed.”
Earlier this month, Rex Rice, project manager for RealtyLink, the development company, said the eight new stores at Main Street Oak Ridge could be ready by late spring or summer. Dick’s Sporting Goods and T.J. Maxx stores should be ready for those retailers by late spring or summer, Rice said. The six other stores—Electronic Express, Maurice’s, PetSmart, Rack Room Shoes, Rue 21, and Ulta—should be ready by summer, Rice said during a project update at an Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce event on November 1.
The demolition of the former Oak Ridge Mall was complete in about three months. Only Belk and JCPenney remain, and both are open. Demolition cost about $1 million.
Rice said at the beginning of the month that developers hope to re-open Wilson Street in the next 30 days, and they will then work on East Main Street and West Main Street. That work should be done by the end of the year, Rice said.
It’s all part of the first $40 million phase of Main Street Oak Ridge.
The second phase could cost between $20 million and $30 million, Rice said. It could include restaurants and residential units. Restaurants would be in the interior of the site, between Belk and JCPenney.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous Main Street Oak Ridge stories here.
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