Beaufort News

Kroger announces purchase, redevelopment of Shelter Cove mall

The Mall at Shelter Cove on Hilton Head Island has a new owner with a new plan to try to revitalize the languishing shopping center.

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, according to online Beaufort County property records. The company and a developer have discussed plans to tear down much of the mall and add a grocery story and apartments, according to a town official.

"The Mall at Shelter Cove is the perfect location for Kroger's first store on Hilton Head Island due to its centralized location and ease of access from anywhere on the island," said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications for Kroger's Atlanta Division, which includes South Carolina. "We look forward to bringing to life this property's full potential in a manner that serves residents and visitors."

Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial Corp. of Augusta, Ga., has been named the development partner for the project. The firm will also manage the property, Jenkins said.

Plans to redevelop the mall, which skirted foreclosure last year, are still being finalized, but will probably include construction of new retail space and the addition of residential units. Final plans will be announced later, according to a news release.

Walt Petrie, managing member of a partnership that sold the mall, could not be reached for comment.

Petrie told The Island Packet this spring he intended to "de-mall" the property, turning it into an open-air mix of retail and residential development.

Mark Senn of Blanchard & Calhoun declined to comment Tuesday.

Town officials have been discussing various redevelopment scenarios for the mall with Blanchard & Calhoun since October, but nothing official has been submitted, said town community development director Charles Cousins.

The scenarios call for tearing down all but Belk department store and turning the property into a "walking village of shops," Cousins said.

"Belk remains on site in their current locations, and pretty much the rest of the mall is removed and redeveloped as shops linked together by sidewalks," he said of the scenarios discussed. "Think of Main Street Village at the entrance to Hilton Head Plantation, but to a larger scale, with a Kroger, public green space and apartments along the marsh of Broad Creek. One of the issues with that property is it hasn't taken advantage of the waterfront, and this plans does."

Kroger would serve as a secondary anchor for the property, next to Belk, bringing more traffic to help make the shopping center more successful, Cousins said.

The plan would require Town Council to rezone the property to allow residential use, which town staff supports.

"It makes sense to have that residential component to make it function more as a walking village than an enclosed shopping center," Cousins said. "We hope to have something here that will complement the mix of residential and shopping at Shelter Cove."

He said Blanchard & Calhoun hopes to secure all the necessary permits to begin construction by March and be ready to open by early 2013.

The plan would be the second attempt to remake the mall. Mall officials won approval to add a theater in 2009 after about two years of effort, but could not get financing. Lenders last year sought to foreclose on the mall, but mall officials said then that the lenders agreed to hold off in order to hear the latest plan to revitalize the property.

Follow staff writer Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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