City to Unveil New “Downtown Oak Ridge” Possibilities


POSTED: OCTOBER 15, 2019

The City of Oak Ridge and its Community Development Department will present possibilities for the mixed-use redevelopment of the Wilson Street Corridor at a public meeting set for Wednesday, October 23.

The meeting will be held at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, located at 1400 Oak Ridge Turnpike, from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. The community is invited to view the presentation, which uses data compiled over several years of study and public engagement focused on the needs of Oak Ridge residents, business owners, and visitors.

The City of Oak Ridge secured grant funding for this project under an agreement with the State of Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and coordinated through the regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) for the purposes of envisioning a new “Downtown Oak Ridge.” The goal of the study is to explore what could be along the Wilson Street corridor, including multi-story, mixed-use development adjacent to the ongoing retail redevelopment of Main Street Oak Ridge. This location will serve as a catalyst for new and expanded growth.

“Beginning with the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge was born without a distinct downtown,” explained Community Development Director Wayne Blasius. “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.”

Over the years, multiple plans have highlighted the need for a central downtown that can leverage new development 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.

The ideas will be guided by traffic analysis and land use projections for the Oak Ridge market. The City of Oak Ridge and its Industrial Development Board have improved Wilson Street by resurfacing the roadway and upgrading the curb, gutter, drainage system, and underground utilities.

The final examples for the new downtown work will include a mix of retail, restaurant, residential, and/or office uses with an attractive streetscape and pedestrian connectivity. Community Development Department staff are eager to share the results of this project and encourage everyone interested in the possibilities to attend the October 23rd meeting.

Questions about the new downtown planning process or any other Community Development project can be directed to the department by calling (865) 425-3531 or by emailing vemery@oakridgetn.gov.