Downtown businesses wait for response, while other businesses get new signs

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- Some downtown Myrtle Beach business owners are still trying to walk the path to better business in the area. But they say those sidewalks they want to use to lure customers in are being blocked right now.

Downtown business owners are waiting to hear about their proposed changes to some zoning ordinances they say are getting in the way of business.

It's been close to a year now since owners first came together to discuss the changes. They say these changes will be crucial to bringing you and more customers to the area- from displaying merchandise and signs on sidewalks, to reducing parking requirements, and even moving lights.

Now Myrtle Beach officials say the city attorney is working out just how to fit those changes in to city codes. The city has to make sure the changes are legal since it would be interfering with public walking space. And this has to be done before city council can even vote to put the changes in concrete. Business owners say these recommendations will help grab customer's attention and liven up the area.

"We need to do a lot more work to try and get people away from the 21st Avenue area and the beach area back to downtown Myrtle Beach," said L&G Cafe owner Vincent Mezzapella. "Downtown Myrtle Beach used to be a great spot and still is. We just need people to know that we're here."

The city's planning commission will be meeting today to discuss some guidelines for owners that want to use the sidewalks outside of their businesses. There's even some discussion of expanding these changes to help other businesses in other areas besides downtown. As far as the time table- city officials say it just takes time to go through the proper process to make these requests happen.

And in other parts of Myrtle Beach, since the city created a new ordinance for electronic signs and billboards, four new digital billboards have come up. But while some billboards are shinning their lights, it may take businesses a bit longer to add their own flashing electronic signs to their businesses.

Electronic signs can cost a pretty penny- as business owners have to hand over a lot more cash to make it happen. Peaches Corner was one of the first businesses to show interest in electronic signs to light up a corner of Ocean Boulevard. They have made changes to their original plan because of costs, but management is not letting it dim their lights. There's construction right now to change the sign and overall look.

The plan is to have new brighter signs with roped neon and back lighting. A Peaches Corner manager says these upgrades in looks and lighting will show them into their 75th anniversary, and will also help them be here for 75 more years. "People say your signage is one of the main things in your business," said Briggs Dickerson with Peaches Corner. "And there are percentages you should spend on your sign in order to increase your business. So we're doing that."

Peaches Corner is closed right now and the construction work should be finished in February. There are plans for a 75th anniversary celebration when management does turn on the new lights. For some, the hope is that this will be the start for more changes to come for the downtown ocean boulevard area.

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