Hilton Head Island residents got a sneak preview Saturday of the latest plan to redevelop the languishing Mall at Shelter Cove.
A real estate affiliate of The Kroger Co. purchased the 42-acre property and 300,000-square-foot mall Aug. 10 for about $17.3 million, almost $7 million below its assessed market value and less than half its original sales price, according to Beaufort County property records.
Much like the drawings presented last fall to the town's planning commission, the new rendering, presented during the second annual Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Earth Day celebration, call for tearing down much of the mall with the exception of the Belk department store and turning the property into a walking village of shops and restaurants.
Kroger would serve as a secondary anchor and be located next to Belk, part of an effort make the shopping center more successful by bringing in more traffic, said Blanchard & Calhoun president Mark Senn. The company is working as the developer on the project.
The project will make better use of the waterfront by opening up the property to views of Broad Creek, Senn said in a prepared statement. He also said developers will employ green practices, reusing materials from the current mall and filtering stormwater.
The most noticeable changes from the fall presentation include more retail among a total of about 285,000 square feet of commercial space and focusing most of the work around the main mall property rather than toward the old Cracker Barrel site.
The new plan, which officials say is subject to change, still calls for more open space and the addition of 220 residential units in the form of apartments and carriage houses overlooking the creek.
A NEW APPROACH
The plan is the second attempt to remake the mall, which skirted foreclosure in 2010 and has seen stores close or move off-island to the Tanger Outlets in Bluffton.
The new plan would require swapping about 5 acres of mall property for roughly the same amount of town land at Shelter Cove Community Park.
The mall property would be used by the town as a waterfront park and would include a pier.
The town-owned land would be used to build a mix of four-story apartments and two-story carriage houses.
Town Council would have to rezone the area to allow residential use and the added commercial space, a move Mayor Drew Laughlin supports.
"I think it's going to be something everyone is going to see a lot to like in," Laughlin said. "At the end of the day, I think it's going to be a successful project."
THE NEXT STEP
The nearly vacant mall has been a concern for years as the community endured the economic downturn, Laughlin said Saturday.
The new plans, he said, have "come a long way."
He said he favors the land swap, which will give the town property along Broad Creek to integrate into a planned linear park. That park would follow the creek, cross William Hilton Parkway and continue into the Chaplin area, ending at another town park off Singleton Beach.
"I think land swaps, adding residential and rezoning make sense when you've got a better land plan and a better development that better suits the needs of the community," Laughlin said. "I'm good with it in this case because it does that."
The mall plan will return to the planning commission at its June 6 meeting, where a public hearing to change the zoning will be held, town manager Steve Riley said.
Mall general manager Roni Allbritton said Kroger and Blanchard & Calhoun hope to begin construction in August. That work is expected to last about 12 to 18 months.
"We want to make this a place for people to live, work, shop, dine and play," she said.
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