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OR Council OKs mall changes

In a special called meeting Tuesday, the Oak Ridge City Council voted to approve changes to the plans to redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall property. The changes were necessary after RealtyLink from South Carolina replaced Crosland Southeast of North Carolina as the master developer of the 60-acre project aimed at turning the all-but-vacant mall into a mixed-use facility with retail shops, restaurants, a hotel and residential units. RealtyLink says it is still on track to begin demolition of the existing space between Belk and JCPenney as soon as they close on the purchase of the property at the end of November. The company says it plans to open more than 200,000 square feet of retail by Christmas 2016. That includes roughly 130,000 square feet of retail at JCPenney and Belk, which will have a new facade and entrance. There will be more than 75,000 square feet of new retail in the eight new stores. RealtyLink plans to be done with the retail development, which includes 460,000 square feet of retail, including Belk and JCPenney, in 18 months. RealtyLink plans to be done with the entire phased project, including a hotel, restaurants, and about 200 residential units in less than three years. The Council on Tuesday agreed to push back the start of the tax increment financing—or TIF—agreement to 2017 instead of next year while keeping the payback schedule at 30 years. Those changes were also approved this week by both the Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board and the Anderson County Commission.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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