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Mall plan receives strong board support
By: Stan Mitchell | Oak Ridger Staff
March 16, 2004
Oak Ridge Mall Owner Steve Arnsdorff received a unanimous vote of support from the Industrial Development Board regarding his plans for redeveloping the largely empty mall that sits in the center of Oak Ridge.
Arnsdorff told the IDB on Monday he plans to tear down a large part of the mall that is empty and build several new stores on street corners. The demolition and rebuilding would reduce the current area from about 800,000 square feet to nearly 650,000 square feet.
Arnsdorff said the plan "allows us to put more shops on the corner," and could be a major improvement.
"We're kind of excited about it," he said.
With the presentation of the plans came at least two pieces of good news for the city.
First, Arnsdorff confirmed Starbucks had agreed to locate in the Oak Ridge City Center.
Second, he said Sears, Roebuck and Co. wanted to expand their store from about 75,000 square feet to 102,000 square feet. "We are getting some good response from people," Arnsdorff said.
IDB Chair Doug Janney said the plan took a
"gigantic building" that has its back to the road and creates a grouping of buildings that becomes the downtown retail center.
"I was personally quite pleased with what I saw," Janney said. "From a concept, content angle, I think it's right on target."
The work, including realigning Wilson and Main Streets, would occur in two phases, according to Arnsdorff.
He said Phase 1 would be site work, while Phase 2 would involve constructing new buildings.
Following the unanimous vote, Arnsdorff said he needed to continue to work with the city of Oak Ridge and anchor tenants to make sure the plan is agreeable to all.
"There's a lot of moving parts," he said.
Asked when work could begin, Arnsdorff said it was not clear whether construction could begin this year.
In the end, he must get the IDB to approve the issuance of a $5 million private revenue bond. For the issuance of the bond, as well as the Payment In Lieu Of Tax arrangement to repay the bond, Arnsdorff must show that 50,000 square feet of the proposed city center would be pre-leased with new commitments and he must invest $10 million of his or his partners' own money.
Original Story published by the Oak Ridger