The 'town center' of Holiday Isle: Developers have lofty goals for Shoreline Village Mall

Matt Algarin
The space that was once home to the Lighthouse Restaurant will now be used as a gathering space for concerts and other events, according to Shoreline Village Mall developers. The area will feature a stage, as well as benches and tables.

The Shoreline Village Mall is undergoing a facelift, thanks to the property’s new owners.

"This was the center of Destin at one time, but it changed over time," said John Abernathy, director of development and leasing for Blackwater Resources. "The first thing we wanted to do was come in here and clean up the center."

Shoreline Village Mall was originally built in the ’80s and has been home to numerous businesses over the years. With the likes of West Marine, Innerlight and Destin Athletic Club still open today.

Since taking over the 80,000-square foot property, Blackwater has been working on an expansion project at West Marine, down-sized the square footage at Innerlight, expanded Holiday Isle Properties, which Abernathy said was a big part of the center, and relocated Destin Athletic Club into a new, larger space.

The mall's most famous tenant over the years may have been the Lighthouse Restaurant, which relocated at 757 Hwy. 98 W. in the heart of Destin after 27 years of business in Shoreline Village.

The old restaurant space, which was roughly 7,000-square feet, was recently razed by Blackwater to open up the center of the shopping mall. The signature lighthouse is still standing, as Abernathy says plans are to offer restaurant service out of the tower.

"It's a well-known structure and something we felt we could use," he said.

The plan is to use the new open space as a festive center of the mall, which will feature benches and tables, as well as a stage for live music, a farmer's market and other special events.

Part of the property features a two-story building, which will be the site of a new restaurant called Brick-A-Brac. The restaurant's operators will be two members of the Petit family, which is known locally for The Red Bar and Louis-Louis in Santa Rosa Beach.

While the restaurant will occupy the first floor of the building, the second floor is set to become more of a bar and lounge, called Studio 824.

Blackwater Resources, a Birmingham, Ala.-based real estate investment, acquisition, disposition, development, management and leasing company, purchased the roughly 6-acre property from its original developers in February 2013 for more than $4 million.

With projects dotting the state of Alabama, Blackwater Resources is no stranger to projects like this.

Abernathy told The Log that Blackwater is a development company, "first and foremost," but given market conditions as of late, "there are more opportunities for redevelopment."

"When we first stepped in, we weren't 100 percent sure which way we were going to go with the project," he said.

Abernathy said he would like the mall, which sits at the intersection of Hwy. 98 and Gulf Shore Drive, to become the "town center" for the Holiday Isle area.

"It's almost like a city in itself, with all of the condos and people out there along Gulf Shore Drive," he said. "It's going to have a variety of uses, from restaurants and shopping to events."

And Blackwater is currently in the process of exploring the idea of using a tram service along Holiday Isle to move pedestrians to the mall.

For more information about the renovations at Shoreline Village Mall or to inquire about commercial spaces, contact Abernathy at 205-972-9627.

If all goes according to plan, Abernathy said they would like to begin offering events on site by March or April.

"We envision this as somewhere people can come and it becomes part of their week," he said.