Hilton Head supermarket to hibernate until April

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Hilton Head supermarket to hibernate until April

By GRANT MARTIN
gmartin@islandpacket.com
Published Monday, December 5, 2011   |  549 Words  |  

It's hardly uncommon to pack on a little holiday weight, but one longtime Hilton Head Island resident is taking that concept to impressive lengths.

And widths.

The Harris Teeter in Hilton Head's Park Plaza, open since 1988, closed Wednesday and won't reopen until it can move into an adjacent, 52,000-square-foot store -- about 50 percent larger than the closed building.

The new building, scheduled to open in April, occupies much of the retail district's parking lot. The old structure will be demolished and converted to parking space.

At about 35,000 square feet, the old store's size precluded the variety of products the company offers at its other locations, Harris Teeter spokeswoman Catherine Reuhl said. The new store promises to be larger, better-designed and equipped with more amenities, according to Reuhl.

The redevelopment "gives the company the opportunity to introduce more sustainable, energy-efficient designs and practices," she wrote in a statement.

Store manager Chris Beeker said the new store would offer a salad bar, a bigger sushi bar, a bread kiosk, a large seating area and a cooling station with misting for bikers and walkers.

On Friday afternoon, about 10 workers from Shelco General Contractors in Bluffton stood atop scaffolding and painted the exterior of the new structure.

It's far from finished -- much of the exterior is composed of exposed cinder blocks at this point -- but a glimpse through the plywood near what will be the main entrance revealed a cavernous, well-lit interior.

Many of the store's employees were offered temporary placement at Harris Teeter's other Hilton Head location on Main Street. Others are taking what Reuhl termed "a personal leave of absence."

All of the employees, Reuhl said, will have their old positions offered to them when the store reopens.

"We'll have more positions when we reopen," said Beeker, who said the store employed about 50 before closing. "It'll be great when the new building's finished."

Other store managers in the Park Plaza shopping center were less enthused about the ongoing construction.

"We used to run over there any time we were running low on something," said Melvin Monroe, manager of the Mellow Mushroom restaurant next door. "Now it's just a longer trip for us."

David Palm, who manages Towne Centre Tobacco and Wine, said he'd heard of people who thought the entire shopping district would close.

"They see all that construction, and they can't see any of the restaurants or other stores nearby," he explained. "And it's been impeding our traffic flow all year. But when it's finally done, it should be a good deal for all of us."

ABC store manager Richard Johnson said it was too early to tell how the closing would affect his business.

"They brought a lot of customers in here," he said. "Hopefully this new place will bring them all back."

Follow reporter Grant Martin at twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

Related content:

Neighbors happier with Harris Teeter renovation plans at Park Plaza, June 23, 2009