MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Broadway at the Beach is turning 15 years old and is celebrating all summer long.
Aside from the fun and excitement of the celebration, Broadway is also credited with sparking more development along the U.S. Highway 17 Bypass.
"It was absolutely vacant," Myrtle Beach resident Cathy Scharff said about the area where Broadway is now. "There was nothing here at all, and it just totally changed."
Scharff now works at one of the Fudgery shops at Broadway at the Beach, but she came to Myrtle Beach ten years before it opened. What was an old pine tree farm is now a trademark destination that's been part of major development in the area.
"The bypass had a few businesses along it, but it was truly a bypass to 17-Business," Broadway's Marketing Director said. "Now if you drive down the bypass it is really a business district. Businesses have popped up all around Broadway, all along 17 Bypass, and now you have [Highway] 31, which is the bypass to the bypass."
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber Of Commerce President Brad Dean first came to Myrtle Beach as the general manager of Hard Rock Café when it opened at Broadway in 1995. He said he has clearly seen the success of Broadway impact its surroundings.
"It's helped fuel one of the fastest business booms we've ever had along the Grand Strand, and that occurred throughout the late 90s," Dean said.
He says the nearby development came because Broadway attracted national attention. That attention led to more visitors, which meant more opportunity for other businesses.
"It diversified the offering," Dean said. "It attracted a lot of national names to the area, and it gave people a reason to move off the beach and to look for other shopping, dining and entertainment options."
Businesses like Martin's Golf and Tennis store have benefited from the high profile area Broadway has helped create. Store manager Leslie Kalama said the store often sees the benefit of being near Broadway.
"For us it's obviously been a positive feedback in getting people from their business to ours and vice versa," Kalama said.
The new WonderWorks museum is now under construction and many feel there is still room for Broadway to grow.
As part of the celebration Broadway is adding a second concert series, in addition to the one that continues from last year. The 15 concerts in the 2010 concert series will take place at the Celebrity Square stage on various nights through August.