OAK RIDGE (WATE) – It’s been 20 years in making but finally the development of Main Street Oak Ridge is underway. Wednesday was the groundbreaking, transforming the Oak Ridge mall area into a 600,000 square foot mixed use retail project named “Main Street Oak Ridge.” The mall will be torn down, but Belk and JC Penney will remain. The big box mall will be gone, replaced with individual stores you walk into.
Farewell messages were spray painted on the wall of the old mall as part of the groundbreaking ceremony Emily and Charlie Jernigan and their grandkids took part in.
“We are out here to celebrate finally getting this mall underway. We’ve waited and waited for more than a decade and we just can’t wait to see it torn down and built back up again,” said Emily Jernigan.
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The first bit of dirt was moved by county and city leaders and others in the community. Even a wall of the old mall came down. Hundreds of people were on hand to show support of the project.
“People in Oak Ridge, Anderson County and Roane County have been waiting 20 years for this property to be redeveloped,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch.
He says the development of Main Street Oak Ridge will enhance the city images and Attract more residents.
“When it’s open in May 2017, it will bring in new sales tax dollars plus convenient extended shopping for our citizens,” said Mayor Gooch.
Some of the new businesses that have signed on to build are Dick’s Sporting Goods, Rack Room Shoes, T.J. Maxx and Ulta to name a few. Jernigan can’t wait to have all these new stores just down the road from her home.
“It will be wonderful not to have to go any farther than right here,” said Jernigan.
The mayor says there will be several phases of this project with phase one being complete in spring of next year.
The city put $1.5 million into the project and a $13 million TIF is the funding the rest. The mayor says the increased property tax revenue will pay off the TIF in 20 years.