Oak Ridge unveils potential plans for downtown project

Local News

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — Since its inception the Secret City has been without a downtown, but city leaders are closer to remedying the situation.

Plans for a new Oak Ridge downtown area revolve around Wilson Street where the former mall property sits. The street runs parallel with Oak Ridge Turnpike near the center of town.

Oak Ridge Community Development Director Wayne Blasius unveiled potential plans for a new downtown on Wednesday.

“Beginning with the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge was born without a distinct downtown,” Blasius said. “We are now working with local stakeholders and a team of highly-skilled economists, engineers and architectural designers to create a vision of how this can be put into motion.”

Previous development plans have highlighted the need for a central downtown that can leverage new businesses and foster a stronger sense of identity and community, from the 1988 Comprehensive Plan, to the City Center Plan in 2000, and most recently in the 2019 Oak Ridge City Blueprint and amendments to the Main Street development plan.

When the Oak Ridge mall closed down, the city started work on a plan to build a corridor along Wilson Street, parallel to Oak Ridge Turnpike. Ideas include space for restaurants, shops, offices, apartments, condos and green space.

The city still has to establish a new district and rezone the corridor. City Council will vote on the redistricting next month. Work is also underway to make property available to developers.

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