The transformation and redevelopment of the Hilldale Shopping Center is going to continue, this time on the south side of the property.
The owner of the mall, WS Development, has submitted plans with the city on a proposal to create a courtyard and provide more visibility and access to stores from the outside between Macy’s and Sundance Cinemas.
The 55,000 square-foot project would give Sundance a higher profile, provide new space for University Book Store and continue the trend of more open-air shopping at the center, located at University Avenue and Midvale Boulevard.
The city’s Urban Design Commission is scheduled to hear a presentation on the project at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Alexandra Patterson, a project manager for WS Development, said Monday that if the project is approved by the city, which could take until September, work could begin in early 2017.
WS declined to give a cost for the project, which will reduce the shopping center’s retail space by 10,000 square feet.
The proposal comes 11 months after the grand opening of a $15 million, 53,000-square-foot redevelopment between Macy’s and Metcalfe’s Market that created an open-air corridor on the shopping center’s north end.
“We have spent the last year watching the north side come alive with new retailers, restaurants and customer activity while we have been contemplating the next chapter for Hilldale,” WS Development wrote in a letter to the city. “As a result of our studies, we have identified an area of the property that calls for this next phase of reinvestment.”
Developers called the north side project “the most significant expansion in Hilldale’s 51-year history,” although other major renovations over the past 11 years transformed the shopping center into a town center with outdoor entrances to retail shops and restaurants, parking garages and the addition of a Sundance Theater, Target and Great Dane brewpub.
The north side project began in September 2014 and included the relocation of New Balance shoes and the addition of kitchen retailer Sur la Table, clothiers Kate Spade, Mes Amies and Michael Kors, LUSH cosmetics and Cafe Hollander.
Openings in the last few months have included the locally owned Pier South clothing store and interior design store Home Market.
Hilldale, which opened in 1962, is one of the city’s oldest shopping destinations. WS Development bought the shopping center in 2012 at a sheriff’s auction for $52 million.
The property had been owned by Chicago-based Joseph Freed & Associates, which bought it in 2004 and spent millions of dollars on upgrades.
WS Development is based in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and owns, operates and manages over 23 million square feet of shopping center retail space around the country.
In its letter to the city, dated April 26, WS Development said the goals of the project include transforming the south side so that it “joins the recently redeveloped north side as an activated and welcoming streetscape” and to construct “approachable storefronts” that connect with pedestrians.
The plan also would “create meaningful outdoor green space,” according to the letter.
WS Development is working with Eppstein Uhen Architects and Ken Saiki Design for the project’s design.
Tim Parks, a planner with the city, said he saw the conceptual plans for the project on Thursday when they were presented to the city’s Development Assistance Team and that the plans “were well received by those in attendance. The renovation and reconstruction would require approval by the City Council following approvals by the Urban Design Commission and Plan Commission, Parks said.
The plan includes relocating University Book Store to new space but with a main entrance facing the east, while Ulla Eyewear would be relocated to a space near the Macy’s entrance.
While retailers have not yet been identified for the courtyard spaces, renderings indicate a large space for an “outdoor” store with other spaces for home, fitness, beauty and accessories.
Ald. Tim Gruber, who joined the City Council in March and has lived just blocks from the shopping center for over 20 years, has seen Hilldale transform and believes the actions of the past and the plans laid out for the future will be positive.
“I think it’s a good concept. I think it’s fairly modest because it takes away some square footage,” Gruber said. “I think what they’ve done already is good and that will help convince people that this is the next logical step.”