OAK RIDGE (WATE) – Crews are adding the finishing touches to phase one of the Main Street project in Oak Ridge. Some of the stores at the new shopping mall will open up as early as next week.
From the outside, the buildings look just about ready. Most of the work left to do is inside eight new stores on the multi-million dollar project. Stores like Rue 21, Dick’s Sporting Goods, PetSmart and TJ Maxx are getting ready to open.
Charley Kirkwood has lived in Oak Ridge since the late 1940s. He has seen the shopping mall change over the decades. He is excited to see the 65-acre development being transformed into a new downtown center for Oak Ridge, after it sat empty for quite some time. “This place was desolate. All these buildings and nobody in them and all at once you come out here and they’re all torn down and new buildings are going back up.”
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Mark Watson, the City Manager of Oak Ridge adds, “It sat still and quiet for 20 years. Now we have a new owner and new investment. All of this is moving forward.”
The City of Oak Ridge plans on the development being the center of the community. Officials made the investment for the future. Nearly 1,000 new jobs will be added to the economy and $2,000,000 annually will be made in sales tax revenue. The sales tax will benefit the city and county.
Soon enough people will have new options to shop.
“We look at this being a core market area for the greater metropolitan region,” said Watson.
The new development will serve an estimated 200,000 shoppers. Construction on phase two is already underway. Restaurants, residential units, office space, and a new hotel will also be added to the area.
Timeline of stores opening:
- Rue 21: June 15
- Maurices: June 23
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: Middle to end of June
- Rack Room Shoes: End of June to first of July
- Ulta: End of June to first of July
- Petsmart: Middle to end of July
- Electronics Express: Middle to end of July
- T.J. Maxx: Beginning to middle of August
- Belk and JCPenney have remained open