Sea Turtle Marketplace (copy)

The conversion of the former Pineland Station into Sea Turtle Marketplace began in 2015. The owner of the Hilton Head island shopping center filed for bankruptcy protection this week. Provided rendering

The owner of a recently redeveloped South Carolina retail center has filed for bankruptcy protection, saddled with more than $32 million in debt from the project.

WD-I Associates LLC sought legal shelter from its creditors Tuesday in Columbia, a court filing shows. The company owns Sea Turtle Marketplace on Hilton Head Island.

WD-I estimated the value of its 147,000-square-foot shopping center at about $22.8 million, leaving a nearly $10.8 million gap between its assets and debts.

The largest creditor is BOK Financial Corp.'s Bank of Arkansas, which provided the developer with a $20 million construction loan.

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Wheeler Real Estate Investment Trust, a Nasdaq-listed company that owns 24 retail centers in South Carolina, is owed about $12 million. Jon Wheeler, a major shareholder in WD-1, is the Virginia Beach-based company's former CEO. The financing for his Hilton Head project was approved before he was ousted in early 2018. 

Sea Turtle Marketplace was called Pineland Station before it was redeveloped. The overhaul of the shopping center on William Hilton Parkway has been mostly completed. The major tenants include Stein Mart, PetSmart and West Marine.

The property generated about $1.25 million in rental income last year and $303,000 in the first quarter of 2019, according to a court filing.

Contact John McDermott at 843-937-5572 or follow him on Twitter at @byjohnmcdermott