OAK RIDGE (WATE) - The old Oak Ridge mall will soon be thriving once more. North Carolina-based Crosland Southeast purchased the mall in February and has unveiled its plans for the property.
The company has been working with the City of Oak Ridge for several months to develop a plan to convert the once thriving mall site into a new destination.
The mall has been on the decline for the last 10 years and is almost entirely vacant.
"Our vision for this redevelopment effort is to construct a ‘new downtown' for Oak Ridge that will restore a sense of community and has the potential to make a positive impact on the region as a whole," said Tim Sittema, partner at Crosland Southeast.
Mayor Tom Beehan says several factors led to the mall's failure, including high rent and poor maintenance.
Mayor Beehan says Crosland Southeast has a good track record and an exciting plan for the mall.
"It's going to be a multi-use, multi-level lifestyle center. It's going to have retail, housing, and small offices, and a gathering place for this community," said the mayor.
Company representatives plan to meet with the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board over the next several days to consider a tax increment financing (TIF) plan to assist with development.
City officials say the TIF won't put any public dollars at risk; instead the developer will assume all the financial risk.
The proposed new development is projected to create 1,000 new jobs and increase city and county sales tax revenues by more than $2 million.
The final cost of the project is expected to be $80 million.
Several stores have already committed to the mall, but Mayor Beehan could not name them specifically.
The mayor says demolition on the mall will start next year, and he hopes the new development will be built by 2015.
JC Penney, Belk and the movie theater are expected to remain open.