Shelter Cove mall plans get warm reception from town planning commission

A new owner's plans to revitalize the languishing Mall at Shelter Cove received a warm reception Wednesday from the Town of Hilton Head Island Planning Commission.

"You could be our hero," Commissioner Jack Docherty said of plans presented by Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial of Augusta, Ga., the development partner for the project. The firm will also manage the site.

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 of it's original sale price, according to Beaufort County property records.

Drawings 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. 

Kroger would serve as a secondary anchor and be located next to Belk in an effort to bring more traffic to help make the shopping center more successful, said Blanchard & Calhoun president Mark Senn.

The plans call for about 250,000-square-feet of new retail space, more open space and the addition of 220 apartments overlooking Broad Creek.

"Right now the mall is a fortress without any interaction with anything around it," Senn said. "We want to open it up so its relevant and has a relationship with the water." He said enclosed malls are falling out of favor around the country, largely due to overhead costs and operating expenses.

Shelter Cove, for example, costs about $12 per square foot to maintain, Senn said.

"The site has to function, be alive and profitable," Senn said of mixing open space with retail, restaurants and apartments. "We don't want to be the next person to drop that promise."

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