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BLUFFTON, SC-In spite of the recession, the Sembler Co. says it plans to move forward in developing its Okatie Crossings shopping center locally. With a total of 1.7 million square feet, the center will serve a trade area of more than 300,000 residents and visitors in the Hilton Head market.

“With the local population on the rise and vacationers totaling over 2 million, our center will meet the growing retail demands of the area,” says Greg Sembler, CEO of the St. Petersburg, FL-based company. He adds that the project, scheduled to break ground this fall, will feature a variety of shops and restaurants with some tenants establishing their first stores in South Carolina.

The Sembler Co. has numerous retail projects under way throughout the Southeast plus Puerto Rico. In an earlier interview, Sembler tells GlobeSt.com that development volume has been affected by trepidation among retail chains, with bankruptcies leading to store closings.

“The general mood now is tough. Everybody has a wait-and-see attitude and nobody wants to take a lot of risk on a new store,” Sembler says. He notes that almost all of the national tenants are pushing back expansion plans to 2010 and beyond.

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