New “Downtown Oak Ridge” Possibilities FOCUS ON WILSON STREET


Back in late October, the City of Oak Ridge and its Community Development Department presented possibilities for the mixed-use redevelopment of the Wilson Street CorridorThe community was invited to view the presentation, which used data compiled over several years of study and public engagement focused on the needs of Oak Ridge residents, business owners, and visitors.

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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 was 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.

Joe Minicozzi, Principal of Urban3, highlights the value of downtown development and the implications of different growth patterns on city coffers in the video below...

“Beginning with the Manhattan Project, Oak Ridge was born without a distinct downtown,” explained Community Development Director Wayne Blasius. “We worked with local stakeholders and a team of highly-skilled economists, engineers and architectural designers to create a vision of how this could be put into motion.”

WUOT 91.9FM aired segments on the downtown development project in early December 2019. You can listen to the story or read it in full by clicking the links below:

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 were guided by traffic analysis and land use projections for the Oak Ridge market. The City of Oak Ridge and its Industrial Development Board have already 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 included a mix of retail, restaurant, residential, and/or office uses with an attractive streetscape and pedestrian connectivity. Click here to view the street art ideas developed as part of the project.

Additional renderings and information on the downtown possibilities can be found in the Municipal Building lobby area near the atrium. You can also download and view a project overview by clicking here.

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