Note: This story was last updated at 1 a.m.
The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday narrowly rejected a revised plan that would have allowed four national retailers to build stores at Main Street Oak Ridge.
The Council had unanimously approved a revised plan for Main Street Oak Ridge, subject to certain conditions, in December. That was the first of two readings.
But Council rejected the plan in a 4-3 vote in the second and final reading on Monday.
The rejection hinged on concerns that included the closure of an access road to the 58-acre site, the movement of mixed-use areas to a future phase along Wilson Street, and questions about whether there are other site plan options and whether the development would or should establish a “city center.” People who rejected the revised plan or asked Council to reject it said they support the development and want continued negotiations with RealtyLink, the developer. But it wasn’t immediately clear this week if that will happen.
Those who had supported the revised plan, on the other hand, warned that rejecting it could affect funding for Oak Ridge and Anderson County governments and school systems by diminishing expected sales and property tax revenues, possibly in the range of several hundred thousand dollars. They worried about the impact on the city’s retail community, property tax values, and new housing developments. They called the project a “once in a generation” opportunity and said it could be a few decades before another similar proposal emerges.
It’s not clear what will happen next or if there is any solution that will be acceptable to both RealtyLink and the planning commissioners and City Council members who opposed the revised plan. On Tuesday, three people involved in the project, including RealtyLink, said there is no other design, no “plan B.”
“We’ve worked for six months to get to where we are,” said Neil Wilson, principal of RealtyLink in Greenville, South Carolina. “We didn’t get what we wanted, and they didn’t get what they wanted.”
He said the four national tenants were notified Tuesday that Council rejected the proposed changes to the planned unit development for Main Street Oak Ridge. The potential tenants will be notified if something changes. [Read more…]