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WS Development
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Madison
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Project Manager

Open-Air Spaces Create New Kind of Shopping Experience

Originally opened in 1962, Hilldale Shopping Center has served as a central retail destination for shoppers in Madison and the surrounding area. Numerous site expansions and renovations have taken place over the decades, as well as a few changes in ownership. The present owners, Massachusetts-based WS Development, have implemented some of the boldest renovation efforts to date. As consumer shopping preferences have changed, converting the fully-enclosed mall to an open-air format was viewed by the owner as the right strategy to attract more shoppers and enhance the retail experience.

Patrons are able to participate in “mall walking” while still enjoying the outdoors.

After a similar, successful project on the mall’s north end, WS Development hired Snyder & Associates to reconfigure 55,000 square feet of retail space on the shopping center’s south end to build an outdoor courtyard, create store entrances that open to the street, and provide more visibility for the businesses in the shopping center. This plan would effectively remove the roof over the central concourse and create a common green space with curbside parking.

Although the project took away about 10,000 square feet of retail space from the mall, it created a new entrance for the AMC movie theater, relocated the University Book Store, and added a location for a new Apple Store. Part of the design effort also included upgrading the grease interceptors to accommodate a future restaurant site.

Our team had to navigate a few site-specific challenges throughout the design process. First, years of upgrades and additions around the mall made utility identification a tricky ordeal. Our team worked diligently to make sure all private utilities were mapped before work began. Second, to minimize disruptions to shoppers, maintaining store access was a critical component of the plan. The Snyder & Associates engineers ensured that a safe environment was continuously the top priority during construction. Finally, to minimize project time and expense, the owners requested the design team limit permitting at the city-level where possible.

The work at the newly renovated Hilldale Shopping Center is now complete and stores are bustling with shoppers. The fresh outdoor spaces have created a family-friendly environment where shoppers can gather to recharge. Our team’s diligent approach and careful planning kept the project on schedule and stores fully operational throughout the construction process.