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A day after expressing reservations about details of plans to redevelop the Mall at Shelter Cove, Hilton Head Island Town Council members on Friday sought to reassure the public they want the project to proceed.
Some council members said they received phone calls from residents worried concerns expressed Thursday -- the first day of a three-day strategic-planning workshop -- meant the council would quash plans unveiled Nov. 16.
"It's not an ideal plan, however, what has been brought to the town is a good plan, and we'll not hold it up," Ward 3 Councilman Lee Edwards said Friday. "We may encourage them to make changes, but we're not saying 'no' to the plan."
Thursday, council members said they would be willing to swap land and allow construction of residential units if that's what it takes to move ahead with a new owner's plans to revitalize the languishing shopping center.
Council also agreed Friday to move quickly in hiring a consultant to prepare an economic impact study and cost assessment for a new commercial village in the Coligny area.
Wood and Partners Inc. created plans for Coligny Plaza owner J.R. Richardson to use a mix of town land and private holdings in Heritage and Coligny plazas to redevelop the area. Plans shown to council Nov. 15 include a hotel, new park and new plazas with outdoor cafes, shops and restaurants. Condominiums and/or apartments would occupy a second story above the retail space.
Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial of Augusta, Ga., owners of Heritage Plaza, also submitted plans to the town.
Redeveloping the area has long been a priority for the town, which faces a December 2014 deadline to commit millions of dollars collected for improvements in a special tax district.
Mayor Drew Laughlin said council hopes to complete the economic analysis by March or April so it can be used to help decide how to commit the tax increment financing dollars that dry up in 2014.
Town manager Steve Riley is skeptical that will happen.
"I don't think a shovel will be in the ground by December 2014. I would be real, real surprised," Riley said, telling council, "I told you in June you needed to make decisions by now and we're still having the same discussion. We've pushed this along and agonized over this. .... Now, we're at a time when we have to crank it out, make some decisions or find another way to pay for it."
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.
- Hilton Head council lukewarm on mall plan, open to land swap, rezoning: Dec. 1, 2011
- Shelter Cove mall plans get warm reception from town planning commission: Nov. 16, 2011
- Conceptual plans unveiled for new commercial village on Hilton Head: Nov. 15, 2011
- Town of Hilton Head Island current redevelopment initiatives