Oak Ridge Downtown Zoning District



The newly established Oak Ridge Downtown District opens the door to great opportunity.  Located along Wilson Street, between South Tulane Avenue and South Rutgers Avenue, the D-1 District is intended to support a centrally located, walkable, urban district that generates daytime and evening activities for residents and visitors.

In 2019, the community-supported City Blueprint Plan asserted that a downtown in Oak Ridge would help grow the City’s population and economic sustainability, enhance the City’s image and quality of place, and improve connectivity and mobility as a central destination and gathering place for residents and visitors. 

In 2020, the City amended its Zoning Ordinance and introduced flexible standards intended to encourage entrepreneurial and innovative businesses and creative structures and spaces to form the downtown district. 

As stated in the ordinance, the district shall be characterized by:


  • Multiple-story buildings oriented towards the street
  • Attractive streetscapes including generous sidewalks for pedestrian circulation, street furniture, etc.
  • Quality public space and community gathering space
  • Compatible mix of uses, including retail, entertainment, restaurant, office, and residential, with residential uses being a critical component of the district
  • Pedestrian and bicycle connections to surrounding development, neighborhoods, and parks


For more information on the Downtown/Wilson Street Vision, click HERE

            To see the D-1 Zoning Ordinance, click HERE

Q + A

What is the Downtown District?

  •   The D-1 Downtown Zoning District was created by city ordinance in November 2020, to enable compact, walkable development in the center of Oak Ridge.  Upon the adoption of regulatory development standards, ten properties along Wilson Street – approximately 14 acres – between South Tulane Avenue and South Rutgers Avenue were immediately rezoned to create the D-1 District.
  •   The District is the outcome of a study that envisioned a downtown along Wilson Street.  No such place existed in the history of Oak Ridge, yet plans and studies over the years identified the need and desire for a vibrant city center.  Analysis found that certain physical elements of the downtown vision would not be allowable under current regulation, and so a new zoning district was created.

How does D-1 zoning enable compact, walkable development?

  •   D-1 zoning enables compact development through new streetscape zone requirements, design parameters, and significant reduction of parking. The standards emphasize the quality of public use areas, such as sidewalks and open space, as well as pedestrian-oriented building details such as orientation and ground-level features.
  •   A broader mix of uses are permitted in the D-1 District, including residential, retail, office, and light manufacturing associated with retail.

What happens to existing buildings that have been rezoned to Downtown District?

  •   No changes are immediately required of existing buildings.  In the case of major site or building alteration, compliance with D-1 zoning will be based on the project scope and what is practical.

How does the D-1 District relate to the Main Street development?

  •   The Main Street PUD is a planned commercial development located between Wilson Street and S Illinois Ave (SR-62).  The District is complementary to the future phases of the Main Street PUD, which abut Wilson Street.  Those future phases are planned for mixed-use development and should blend into the D-1 District. 

Where can I get more information?

  •   For more information on zoning and development standards, you can access the Oak Ridge Zoning Ordinance by clicking HERE.
  •   To learn more about the Vision for Downtown Oak Ridge that is the basis for the D-1 District, click HERE.
  •   If you have additional questions or want to discuss development in the Downtown District, contact: Wayne Blasius, Director of Planning & Development: wblasius@oakridgetn.gov; 865-425-3585