The project aims to fix two key problems with the existing mall on North Midvale Boulevard, according to the application to the UDC from Louis Masiello of WS Development, a Massachusetts-based firm that purchased the mall last year.
The first is "Main Street," which runs north-south through the mall. On the newer east face, Anthropologie, The North Face and other merchants can be accessed independently because they open directly onto the sidewalk.
But the 1980s-era west face of "Main Street" is not as successful according to developers, because it is enclosed and the stores can only be accessed from inside the mall.
Developers want to open up the west side of the mall to convert the shopping center into an entirely outdoor plaza. Plans include demolishing the indoor hallway and reconstructing walls so storefronts face outwards and open onto the sidewalk.
Steve Holzhauer of Eppstein Uhen Architects says the plan would give Hilldale the opportunity to hold sidewalk sales and attract new restaurants with outdoor seating.
"They are looking to retain local businesses but reach out to businesses that don't have locations in Madison," Holzhauer said at Wednesday's meeting. "They want to bring in unique brands that don't exist in the market."
Developers also want to improve access to the parking lot on the northwest side of Macy's. They say the pedestrian walkway included in the plan will connect Main Street with the parking lot.
Holzhauer says his firm plans to seek preliminary approval from the UDC in about two months. He said it hopes to begin initial reconstruction of the mall in January 2014.
View illustrations of the proposed Hilldale redevelopment in the application to the Urban Design Commission.