OAK RIDGE (WATE) - The move out date looms close for residents in an Oak Ridge neighborhood that will soon be demolished to make way for a new shopping center.
A $30 million dollar Kroger Marketplace is slated to open in 2014 at the corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue.
The retail space will replace two motels, a restaurant, church and more than 50 homes. While homeowners agreed to the buyout, as the move out day approaches, they're finding it difficult to say good-bye.
"It's kind of bittersweet," said Jennifer Martin, who's lived on Iris Circle for 47 years.
For her and the rest of the neighbors, moving comes with mixed emotions.
"It's nostalgia. They want to move but they don't want to leave their life here," Martin said.
As the January 15th deadline to move out creeps closer, Martin has happy news.
"We closed on our new house, we doubled our square footage [from this house]," Martin gushed.
The Martin's will move just a mile down the road, but for their neighbor across the street his future plans aren't as concrete.
"Either way I'm going to be in a temporary place for a while," said David Bush who's lived in his home for 54 years.
Bush says he was hesitant at first but now thinks of the whole situation as a blessing.
"I don't know of anybody who doesn't have a little apprehension and a little excitement," Bush said as he continues to pack up his belongings.
Bush says after more than half a century, moving out all of his memories, especially around the holidays, has been a bit stressful.
"This year, holiday's are going to be a little different," Bush said.
The development company has completed the purchases the 52 homes on Iris Circle and Robin Lane, but are granting temporary occupancy to the residents because of the holidays.
"Most people are going to put the holidays in second place and are going to get out as soon as they can," Bush said.
That is except for the Massey family
"We did it for the kids," said Malcom Massey, who's home is all lit up for Christmas. "They don't know what's going on, all they know is it's Christmas time and we decorate every year we weren't going to miss this year."
The Massey's say they'll be out by the first of the year and the move has put a damper on the holiday spirit.
"Not at all, we'll just have to pack up [the decorations] a little bit sooner and get everything done."
But many others have already packed up and moved on, leaving many houses empty. About half of the homes have been purchased by M & M House Movers and now sit on stilts waiting to be relocated. For the families who have spent their lives here, it's comforting to know the homes won't all be destroyed.
"Now that the homes are being moved, that makes you feel a lot better because knowing your home's not going to be demolished and knowing someone else can live in it and rent it," Martin said.
The rest will be demolished soon after the January 15th move out date. Construction is set to begin on the development in spring of 2013 with doors opening on the new Kroger Marketplace at the start of 2014, according to Parker Hardy of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
But while Martin packs up her mini-van to move things to her new house, she looks down the street at many of the empty homes and says overall, this is a good thing for her family and for the community.
"I want to say it's sad to watch the homes around here, but Oak Ridge is about growth and moving forward."