A Hilton Head Island panel unanimously endorsed drawings Tuesday for a redesigned Mall at Shelter Cove that would include a "village" of small, single-story shops and cafes leading to Broad Creek.
Developer Blanchard & Calhoun provided the public with its first glimpse of drawings depicting the new mall, which will replace the existing enclosed mall.
"The architectural character will have a Lowcountry village quality," said Mark Baker of Wood + Partners Inc., an island landscape-architecture firm working with Blanchard & Calhoun on the project.
The town's Design Review Board voted 5-0 to endorse the plans. Final approval is expected in January, pending a more detailed review of landscaping, lighting, floor and site-development plans, according to town urban designer Jennifer Ray.
"I'm very excited to see what's come out of this," board member Deborah Welch said. "... I think it's an architectural style that works well for the island."
Board members Todd Theodore and Tom Parker Jr. abstained from voting. Theodore works for Wood + Partners Inc. Parker, an island architect, was a consultant on the designs.
"Kudos to a very well-thought-out plan ... particularly how it takes advantages of the views of Broad Creek," board member Jennifer Moffet said.
The plan calls for demolishing much of the mall, except for the Belk department store and an area that would become a Kroger supermarket, to make room for new apartments, a waterfront park and a pedestrian-friendly street lined by shops, cafes, restaurants and on-street parking.
A real estate affiliate of The Kroger Co. purchased the 42-acre property and 328,200-square-foot mall more than a year ago for about $17.3 million.
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 Outlet Centers. Only 10 tenants remained a year ago at the mall, which can accommodate about 45. Now, only four stores remain -- Belk, JoS. A. Bank, GNC and Regis Hairstylists.Although unanimous in supporting the project, some board members said they are concerned about parking and screening the back of the Kroger grocery store from view.
Mall demolition would begin late this year. Construction of the retail portion would begin early next year, with expected completion in November, said Mark Senn, president of Blanchard & Calhoun. Construction on accompanying apartments would start in 2014, he said.
Senn said he could not name tenants that might move into the new shopping center and would make those announcements within two months.
"We've been working with several restaurants and retail tenants," he said after the meeting. "We're trying to secure those, and we're excited. We've gotten a lot of interest in this project."