Developer explains plans for Independence Mall site: 'We don’t call it a mall anymore, because it’s not a mall.'

Developer explains plans for Independence Mall site: 'We don’t call it a mall anymore, because it’s not a mall.'
Plans for the Collection at Independence, formerly known as Independence Mall, were released Monday morning.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - On Thursday, a developer shared new details about the future shopping experience at the site of Independence Mall, now known as the Collection at Independence.

Eric Dinenberg, executive vice president of development for Rouse Properties, spoke about the redevelopment plan at the Wilmington Convention Center as part of the annual WilmingtonBiz Expo.

"We don't call it a mall anymore, because it's not a mall," said Dinenberg. "It's not just a shopping center. It's a living community. It's a park…It's a downtown."

The overarching theme behind this new development is to move beyond the traditional concept of a mall shopping space to expand into parks, dining, grocery stores, living spaces, walking areas, stores, fitness centers and more.

In a post-recession era where people are moving more to urban areas, "people want to engage with people differently," and the importance of common areas, walkways, and gathering spaces is increasing, said Dinenberg.

Developers have not released any information yet about the tenants that will lease space in the shopping area.

Dinenberg said the residential areas will be developed after the shopping spaces because they want to ensure it's a space that people will want to live.

"I don't think we think this is anything like seven, eight stories or anything like that," said Dinenberg. "We think we can attract a younger workforce, millennials who may be moving out into a suburban area for the first time, folks who maybe want to downsize who don't want a yard or the mortgage anymore. Empty nesters," said Dinenberg.

When asked by an audience member about environmentalism of the new project, Dinnenberg said, "components of LEED construction, components of sustainability, our LED program, looking for opportunities for solar will all be part of that, including innovations with landscaping. Getting rid of impervious cover. Bringing back indigenous plants. These are all things that we are committed to."

Last month, the mall's leadership team released their renovation plan, which includes demolishing the Sears store space and replacing with other stores and residential units.

The developers will also replace part of the mall interior with a "lifestyle streetscape."

Their redesign is based on combining indoor-outdoor elements, improving the overall look, and adding upscale dining and retail options.

Developers will continue planning through the fall and hope to begin construction by the end of 2018. There is no set completion date and the project will be completed in phases, according to Dinenberg.

At no point during construction will the shopping area be completely closed, according to Dinenberg.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.