Oak Ridge's busiest intersection may soon get a little busier.
Final plans are underway for a new Kroger Marketplace.
The proposed location is at the corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue. The site would also have about 12-thousand square feet for small shop space.
Contractors and officials will propose the site plan to the city's planning commission in the next few days.
City officials will likely consider the new store at its September 28 meeting. Then, the city council would have to sign off.
According to a press release, the new 113,000-square foot store will have an in-store, café-style restaurant,a sushi bar, a large health and beauty section, broader selec¬tions of perishable and grocery items, full-service meat and seafood departments.
Kroger's Marketplace will also offer products not typical of a traditional Kroger, including jewelry, bed and bath items, decorative goods, office and school supplies, furniture, toys and seasonal items. Traditional Kroger services and amenities, such as in-store banking, Starbucks Coffee, a drive-through pharmacy and a Fuel Center, will also be available.
City leaders are excited about the new store.
Chris Johnson, President and CEO of ORNL Federal Credit Union and Chairman of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce's Retail, Commercial and Residential Growth area said, "This is exciting news for Oak Ridge. As someone who has traveled to retail conventions to help recruit new retail into Oak Ridge, this is exactly the kind of retail project we've been hoping to see make a commitment to our community. In fact, we met with the Kroger Real Estate team at the ICSC RECon event in May. Members of the Chamber's Retail Recruitment Facebook group may recall a post by Parker Hardy during that event saying that a prospect had told us Oak Ridge was their number one priority in the Knoxville Market - that was Kroger!"
According to Parker Hardy, President and CEO of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, "The Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce began conversations with Blanchard & Calhoun about this project in November 2011. Though the firm conducted an extensive search, other properties were either deemed unsuitable for the center or were unavailable."
Mark Watson, Oak Ridge City Manager said, "The proposed Kroger Oak Ridge Marketplace is the kind of project our citizens and those in surrounding areas have been waiting for. This project demonstrates that Oak Ridge is a desirable market to be in and identifies Oak Ridge as having strong investment potential. People like stores and buildings that are new and the size of this project developed with Kroger will plant an image of a vibrant, economically strong community, spurring further projects and future growth in Oak Ridge.
"As far as what will happen with the current Kroger site on South Illinois Avenue, our understanding is that Kroger will be aggressively marketing that location to other retailers for sublease," Watson added.
David Bradshaw, Oak Ridge President for CapitalMark Bank and Trust and Chairman of the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors said, "Not only am I thrilled to see Kroger commit to a Marketplace concept in Oak Ridge, but I believe with the close proximity of this location to Grove Center, it will lead to greater visibility, consumer traffic and sales for the Grove Center merchants."
In regards to the impact the shopping center will have on the Oak Ridge City Center (formerly the Oak Ridge Mall), Hardy said, "The Kroger Oak Ridge Marketplace will be a destination for consumers, attracting new customers to our community and creating economic synergy for Oak Ridge Mall. And, new money coming into the store and outparcel tenants will circulate through the community, creating a multiplier effect."
"Kroger is committed to bringing the best products and services to the communities we serve," said Glynn Jenkins, Director of Communications and Public Relations for Kroger's Atlanta Division, which includes the Oak Ridge area. "Kroger has been a neighborhood store since 1954, and we are delighted to introduce a variety of new amenities to the Oak Ridge community, and we look forward to opening day, which is tentatively expected in the spring of 2014."
The new location is expected to bring 250 new jobs to the east Tennessee region.