The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday unanimously approved a rezoning for property that could be developed with a grocery store, retail shops, and restaurants on vacant land south of the American Museum of Science and Energy.
The rezoning of the 7.4 acres had been requested by TN Oak Ridge Illinois LLC, a company affiliated with RealtyLink, which is developing Main Street Oak Ridge at the former Oak Ridge Mall.
The rezoning was approved, with a few contingencies, by the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission on October 19. City Council approved it with some comments in the first of two monthly meetings on Monday.
In addition to approving the rezoning request, Council approved an associated planned unit development (PUD) preliminary master plan for the project.
Council is expected to consider the rezoning and PUD preliminary master plan on second and final reading during its December meeting.
The property is along South Illinois Avenue between South Tulane Avenue and Badger Avenue.
A rezoning map filed for the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission meeting in October showed a grocery or large retail store of about 55,000 square feet could be built on the property. So could three smaller retail or restaurant buildings of about 4,000 to 7,000 square feet.
Last week, Neil Wilson of RealtyLink said the company is working with a grocery store that could build on the former AMSE property, but he declined to name the grocery store. The store hasn’t signed a lease yet, Wilson said, and RealtyLink could know more about the project in March.
The property was once part of the AMSE property and owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, but it has since been transferred to the City of Oak Ridge and then to TN Oak Ridge Illinois LLC as part of an agreement signed last December.
The property rezoning request was for a UB-2 (a unified general business district) with a planned unit development, or PUD, overlay. That’s the same zoning used for Main Street Oak Ridge, the 58-acre redevelopment of the former Oak Ridge Mall on the other side of South Tulane Avenue.
If the grocery store project proceeds, construction could start in 2018, and the new store could open in 2019, Wilson said.
He said there are between five and 10 grocery stores of between about 50,000 and 55,000 square feet.
The 7.4 acres, which was the southernmost portion of the AMSE site, could also have smaller shops, possibly including a tire store, a restaurant, and one other business, Wilson said.
See a previous story featuring a visit to Oak Ridge by Wilson last week here.
See a story on the property rezoning after the Planning Commission meeting here.
See a story on the December agreement related to the AMSE property here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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