Pineland Station developers might completely rebuild, buy 10 adjacent acres from town

FILE: Shoppers walk toward the parking lot from the Pineland Station shopping center on Hilton Head Island in October 2013. SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver Buy PhotoPhoto by: SARAH WELLIVER — Sarah Welliver Buy Photo

Hilton Head Island Mayor Drew Laughlin said Tuesday he would consider selling 10 acres of town land behind Pineland Station to the shopping center's developers, who are planning to overhaul the plaza.

"My hope is that if they are serious and willing to work with us, then we'd be willing to work with them," he said.

Wheeler Development of Virginia Beach, Va., the firm in charge of the north-island shopping center, expressed interest in October in tearing down and rebuilding much of the plaza off William Hilton Parkway.

"I'd say we're pretty close to having something to share" with the public, regional partner Jonathan Guion said Tuesday. "We're negotiating with tenants and moving forward."

Part of the developers' plan is to build shops farther from the road to give the center a staggered look, unlike a typical strip mall, Laughlin said. The 10 acres behind the center could provide the space necessary for that.

Laughlin said five of the 10 acres are wetlands and unsuitable for development. But the five acres adjacent to the center are usable. He declined to provide a sale price.

"I don't see any particular use for the property for us," he said. "It was not property that was purchased to be open space."

Guion, though, said the wetlands could pose a problem.

"The wetlands might preclude somebody from doing something in a major way," Guion said. "I'll have to leave it at that."

Guion's company has not yet presented plans to the town and is still deciding on designs, he said.

He said in October that Stein Mart and Starbucks would remain, while much of the shopping center would be torn down and rebuilt, according to tentative plans. Construction would occur in phases, so shops could remain open during construction and move into new space after it's completed, he said.

Guion has said the center needs renovation, citing a high vacancy rate. Changes would take about two years to complete, he said.