300-Acre Shopping Center Planned for Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Mar. 17--Officials developing one of the biggest commercial projects in recent years -- a shopping center at the intersection of S.C. 170 and U.S. 278 near the Fairfield Inn -- said this week that the first groundbreaking should take place early next month.

Okatie Crossing, an almost 300-acre "power and lifestyle center," as the developer calls it, will include an as yet unnamed department store and a grocery store, as well as other stores and restaurants.

The groundbreaking will be for one of the site's outparcels, Claudia Jones, asset manager for Tennessee-based developer Horne Properties, said this week.

The company announced two years ago plans to develop a major shopping center at the northwest quadrant of the intersection. After some initial activity for infrastructure work, work appeared to stop. But officials have spent many months negotiating with possible tenants, Jones said, and is now in the process of signing retailers to leases.

Jones declined to release any names, stating the company agreed that retailers would make announcements individually when they're ready.

"Some of them are further along than others," Jones said.

With the widening to four lanes of S.C. 170 between U.S. 278 and Beaufort, Okatie has become a desirable area for developers.

Since the mid-1990s, the corridor has become home to a number of residential communities, including Sun City Hilton Head and River Bend and Oldfield. And last year, the nearby city of Hardeeville in Jasper County tripled its land area and approved development plans for about 40,000 homes. The plans include land north of U.S. 278 between Interstate 95 and S.C. 170.

Okatie Crossing will consist of two core elements: a 200,000-square-foot "power center" anchored by a grocery store; and a 500,000-square-foot "lifestyle center" anchored by a department store.

The development will have multiple anchors and a pedestrian-friendly Main Street feel, Jones said. Plans also call for restaurants, a bank and other retailers in an open-air setting.

"There's no enclosed parts," Jones said.

Long-term plans also include a residential element, such as apartments or townhomes, but she did not disclose details.

Horne Properties has projects in 14 states from Iowa to Florida and has projects throughout South Carolina, including sites in Columbia, Greenville and Irmo, and is developer of the Publix-anchored Bluffton Commons at Belfair off Buck Island Road in Bluffton.