The old Belk building at the Santa Rosa Mall in Mary Esther is being bulldozed to make room for Renaissance Santa Rosa apartments.

MARY ESTHER — Demolition has begun on the old Belk building attached to the Santa Rosa Mall.

For more than four days, crews have worked to bulldoze a section of the mall that will be the site of a planned $37 million apartment complex called Renaissance Santa Rosa. The project, which is estimated to be completed in early 2021, is a joint venture between Rea Ventures Group and the mall’s owner, New York City-based Radiant Partners.

"After the demolition of the old Belk department store, construction will commence in phases on four, four-story apartment buildings that will include amenities such as a dog park, clubhouse and swimming pool for residents' use," said Kori Burton, mall manager.

Plans are to have 229 apartment units, ranging from one to three bedrooms, when construction is complete, according to Burton. The apartments will be freestanding and will not connect directly to the mall.

All of the tenants currently on site will be allowed to remain in place, Burton said. The new development, she explained, is an effort to turn the 8.6-acre property into a mixed-use community.

"The new apartment complex will provide an opportunity for residents to live, shop, dine and play all in one place," Burton said. "We are excited to be transitioning into more of a mixed-use center, which will provide a unique option for the community.

"Santa Rosa Mall will continue to provide shopping, entertainment and food and beverage options for all the residents and members of the community."

The former Belk store, on the northwest part of the mall, closed in early 2014. The section being bulldozed was not part of the original mall design, but was an addition built about 10 years after the mall's opening in 1976.