The site currently occupied by Oak Ridge City Center was selected by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to establish a permanent shopping center in the years following World War II. In 1951 the AEC selected a company headed by Guilford Glazer to build the new shopping center. A shortage of steel resulting from the Korean War delayed construction, but the Downtown Shopping Center opened in 1955. This shopping area was considered a replacement for the former "townsite" area around Jackson Square.
In the late 1980s Crown American purchased the property and converted it to an indoor mall by enclosing the walkways around the stores and significantly expanding the floor area. Currently, the two current anchors are the only stores open.