Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Bob Fowler | July 5, 2015



Six major Oak Ridge employers are chipping in a total of $500,000 to help pay for rebuilding three streets and other infrastructure improvements for Main Street Oak Ridge, the proposed $80 million overhaul of the all-but-empty Oak Ridge Mall.

That funding supplements $1.5 million pledged by Oak Ridge City Council and the city’s industrial development board for the infrastructure improvements.

Bids on the infrastructure improvements came in over estimates.

Main Street Oak Ridge is the brainchild of Crosland Southeast, a Charlotte, N.C., development firm that’s been planning the sweeping changes to the 60-acre mall property for more than two years.

The project is expected to start this summer with the demolition of the mall’s common areas and include new stores, a hotel and residential units. Plans are to have the development open in time for the Christmas 2016 season.

Contributing the additional needed funding are UT-Battelle, the contractor that operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Consolidated Nuclear Security, which runs the Y-12 National Security Complex; Oak Ridge Associated Universities; UCOR, the cleanup contractor for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation; Restoration Services, Inc., an environmental restoration company; and Methodist Medical Center.

“As far as I can determine, such a pledge from private entities to back public infrastructure investments has never happened before,” said Crosland executive Tim Sittema. “This is a remarkable project in a remarkable community. As we get closer and closer to groundbreaking, the teamwork of everyone involved is something we’ve never experienced before.”

“We appreciate these great corporate citizens stepping up to the plate to help make Main Street Oak Ridge a reality,” Mayor Warren Gooch said.

“All Oak Ridgers realize the successful development of the Main Street town center project is of critical importance not only to the citizens of the city of Oak Ridge and business community but to the region in general.”

Pledge agreements from the six companies have been sent to David Wilson, the chairman of the industrial development board, and will be presented at the IDB meeting this afternoon.