Planning commission discusses boardwalk Ferris wheel idea -, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Planning commission discusses boardwalk Ferris wheel idea

Myrtle Beach, SC -

By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Representatives of a development company that want to build a giant Ferris wheel in Myrtle Beach officially presented their idea to city leaders for the first time Tuesday.

Todd Schneider with St. Louis, MO based Pacific Development, LLC said the company became interested in Myrtle Beach once the oceanfront boardwalk was under construction.

"That's really a special place," Schneider said. "To be able to capture the whole Grand Strand into a 1.2 mile segment is really a neat opportunity, and we think that when somebody comes here to Myrtle Beach they're going to at least take some time during their stay to come down and walk the boardwalk."

The Ferris wheel would look exactly like one the company built on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. At 175 feet tall, it would be much larger than the standard size, with each gondola able to hold six to eight people.

Myrtle Beach's Downtown Redevelopment Corporation Executive Director David Sebok said he has been talking with company representatives since they contacted the city to inquire about the possibility of building the Ferris wheel. Sebok said their inquiries have been positively received by city leaders because it is exactly the type of attraction they have been hoping to bring to downtown since the Pavilion amusement park closed.

"Its family friendly," Sebok explained.  "It's iconic. Because they're enclosed gondolas that are heated and air conditioned, it can operate all year round. So it's less subject to seasonality.  It appeals to old people, young people, handicapped people."

The developers would tear down the two buildings of the Golden Villa motel just north of Plyler Park to construct the wheel. The location would be easily accessible to the boardwalk and to the park.

The plan also calls for a small restaurant and a gift shop. Although that may create a little competition for nearby businesses, many of owners and workers at those businesses say they welcome the Ferris wheel because it could be a destination attraction.

"It'll help out with business," air brush artist Joseph Chucci said. "It'll help get rid of a terrible looking hotel. I don't think it'll hurt us at all. I think it'll be a benefit."

At the Good Vibes Shop just south of Plyler Park, Kedren Watts echoed that thought. She said the recession and the controversy over bike rallies have hurt her business. She said the new boardwalk has helped, and thinks the Ferris wheel could act as a beacon to the downtown area because of its size.

"It would be really nice if something brought them over to our side of the world," Watts said. "Especially since the boardwalk is all brand new. We need something to lead them over here, and I think that would work really well."

The idea also seems to be a hit with many tourists. Members of the Campbell family, who were visiting Myrtle Beach from Missouri, said they like the idea, and they were excited to hear about the possibility.

"It's certainly a family-oriented attraction so it fits in well with the whole environment," Jay Campbell said.

Discussion about how well the Ferris wheel will fit in with the Myrtle Beach downtown is expected Thursday when Pacific Development makes a presentation to the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board.

The discussion at Tuesday's Planning Commission meeting did not involve voting, so the idea still has pass through the Community Appearance Board, the Planning Commission, and City Council.

If those votes happen quickly, the developers would like to have the Ferris wheel open by the summer of 2011.

Schneider said the cost to ride would be $10 for adults and $6 for children.

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