Shopping center still planned for Okatie Crossings site


The Island Packet

Horne Properties, the developer that owns most of the Okatie Crossings site, is moving forward with plans for the 280-acre shopping center, president Doug Horne said Friday.

The company has resumed efforts to develop the parcel after The Sembler Co., which planned 1.6 million square feet of space for national retailers and Italian and American designers, let a purchase option with Horne lapse, he said.

Sembler officials have said they plan to develop about 40 acres they already own.

Horne said that wouldn't affect his plans, although he might approach Sembler about buying that portion back.

Horne said he controls all remaining frontage of U.S. 278 and S.C. 170. He has five employees working on the project and recently met with Hardeeville's city manager and state environmental officials, he said.

The company also recently marketed Okatie Crossings at an international shopping center convention in Las Vegas, he said.

Many tenants are interested in the property, he said. Horne said he has a site plan, but he is not yet ready to release it.

It includes a road that would connect U.S. 278 to S.C. 170 through the middle of the property, he said.

On one side of the street would be a "fashion center" of stores such as Belk, JC Penney and a Regal Cinemas movie theater, he said. On the other side would be a "power center" of stores such as a wholesale retailer, Target, Marshalls, Dick's Sporting Goods and Kohl's.

Hotels and restaurants also would probably occupy the site, Horne said.

His company is not seeking the state sales tax incentive Sembler once pursued. Horne would consider the local sales tax incentives state lawmakers have proposed, but the company is not lobbying for them, he said.

Horne does need a separate, previously arranged financing deal with Hardeeville and Jasper and Hampton counties to help offset some infrastructure costs, he said.

Horne's center could open by spring 2012, he said.

City manager Ted Felder said Horne representatives seemed "genuine and serious" about their interest in the development during a meeting last week, which he characterized as preliminary.

"We just want to see the property developed," Felder said.