Take a look behind the scenes of the construction of Tanger Outlet Center I, the first LEED-certified shopping center in Beaufort County
If Tanger Outlet Center Hilton Head I looks brand new to you, it isn’t. Sure, you may have seen the mall completely leveled last winter. You may have noticed it being totally rebuilt, from the sewer ines to the buildings to the parking lots. But those involved with the $50 million transformation will tell you — quite proudly — that’s it’s far from new.
The 22-acre center, set to reopen March 31, is being called the first LEED-certified green shopping center in Beaufort County, which means, among other things, that quite a bit of the old center was recycled for the new one, including 100 percent of the old concrete, most of the steel and gravel and close to 100 tons of landscape material.
“It differs from other outlet centers because it gives the tenants the opportunity to benefit from the energy savings that the landlord provides before the space is even turned over to them,” said John Martin, LEED project administrator. “This center also has many features ... like porous paving, white roofs, less asphalt, and underground stormwater retention, all of which help the environment and lessen the impact to the local infrastructure.”
The original center, built in 1987 and bought by Tanger in 2003, was in desperate need of a renovation, said project manager Carl Close. For one thing, its design could only accommodate 5,000-square-foot stores, which is well shy of the new Saks Fifth Avenue O 5th footprint of 28,000 square feet. Many of the old stores weren’t equipped with sprinklers, and the parking lots became puddles when it rained.
Now the main parking lot sits atop a massive retention basin that collects stormwater, directs it through a series of state-ofthe-art filters, perks some of it into the groundwater and nearby trees and flows the rest out through three exits to the wetlands.
“The bioretention basin is basically a landscape feature that’s a stormwater workhorse,” said Jon Rembold, engineering project manager. “It serves as a ‘speed bump’ and a pre-filtration system for stormwater before that water enters the underground detention system.”
All that translates to a more efficient and environmentally friendly way to get rid of rainwater so shoppers aren’t sloshing through it on their way to one of the 40 stores and restaurants that will call the new center home.
The new center covers just over 200,000 square feet of retail space, up from about the previous center’s 185,000. That includes new standalone buildings that will bring Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Panera Bread to town.
Redevelopment of the property began in January 2010, and the project has given the center renewed life and vitality in the growing Bluffton market. The LEED-certified status was part of the Planned Use Development agreement with the county, a stipulation that cost Tanger more money and time up front but will enrich their investment in the long run, Martin said. That’s good news for a center that already draws an estimated 1.7 million shoppers annually and brings more than 305 full-and part-time retail and sales jobs to the area.
“It’s been documented that by building green you could decrease operating costs, increase building value and increase occupancy,” he said, adding that saving will be turned over to the center’s tenants in the form of lower utility bills.
“The energy model of this project projects an energy savings of at least 14 percent,” he said. The new white roofs reflect heat instead of absorb it, which should help keep stores cooler. And there’s an estimated 40 percent reduction in water use thanks to new low-flow fixtures.
While shoppers might not notice some of these changes, they will notice the special parking spaces for low-emission vehicles, and the designated smoking areas, now that smoking outside each storefront will be prohibited. Plus there will be more landscaping, building overhangs and a general aesthetic appeal that developers hope will translate to a more walkable, pleasurable shopping experience.
“The shopper may be less apt to drive to the other side of the center to shop,” choosing instead to walk, Rembold said. That’s an environmentally friendly outcome right there.