WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Plans for the Collection at Independence, formerly known as Independence Mall, were released Monday morning.
The plans include removing a portion of the mall interior to allow "a lifestyle streetscape and exterior retail entrances, the demolition of the Sears box to make way for newly-constructed spaces that will house multiple leading high volume retailers, and the addition of outparcel space and residential units."
Officials said they are working with city staff to obtain the necessary permits and approvals and plan to begin construction this year.
"The property as it currently stands is significantly undervalued given it sits just seven miles from the Atlantic Ocean," said Helen Lewis, general manager of the Collection at Independence. "We feel our plan as designed will unlock the true value potential of the property and will be a tremendous growth driver for the community, as we have appropriately incorporated the wants and desires of the market with the demands and expectations of the category-leading retailers we are looking to attract. We are looking forward to working with the City to move forward our vision."
A portion of the center's interior in the Sears wing will be removed and replaced with a restaurant streetscape that will include dining and retail businesses.
"The removal will also allow for exterior facing retail entrances," a news release stated. "The Sears box will also be demolished to accommodate a mix of new-to-market category-leading brands, some of which will be announced over the coming weeks."
Outparcel space along the north end of the property will be leased to retailers, and residential units will be added to the west end.
Space near JC Penney will be used for a hotel and a medical office building.
Some current retailers may have to be relocated during construction, officials said.
"Given the extensive nature of the transformative plan, The Collection at Independence anticipates some of its current retailers will need to be relocated to accommodate the construction process," the release said. "While it is still too early to comment on a finalized merchandising layout or its leasing initiatives, The Collection at Independence is committed to working together with all parties – its tenants, partners, members of the community and municipal officials – throughout the duration of the project. Furthermore, the property will remain open throughout the entire project."