Note: This story was updated at 9:50 a.m. Oct. 4.
With a boom in economic activity that includes billions of dollars worth of projects, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark S. Watson offered a dose of optimism about the city’s economic future on Tuesday, and he suggested commercial developments won’t be held up by the owners of the “inactive” Oak Ridge Mall or property owners who set sale prices too high.
Five retailers that might have wanted to locate at the mall are now talking to the developers of a $30 million Kroger Marketplace shopping center planned at the busy intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue, Watson said. He said the city and commercial developers are “going right on around” the privately owned, mostly empty mall, where redevelopment plans have languished for years.
“They’re starting to lose customers,” Watson said during an hour-long lunchtime speech to the League of Women Voters of Oak Ridge. “They’re going to be left holding the bag if they don’t start moving—and moving quickly.”