Economist: Waccamaw Pottery has potential with new owners

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - New ownership for the Waccamaw Pottery area just outside the Myrtle Beach city limits has lots of people optimistic about new development in the Fantasy Harbour area. The owners are a mix of American and international investors who formed a group called 3W, LLC, and they are based in New Jersey.

Susan Cantrell is one of the people excited about the potential for change at the Waccamaw Pottery buildings. She remembers years of vacations in Myrtle Beach.

"There was always somewhere to go, something to do, something to see," she said.

A big part of those vacations was Waccamaw Pottery. She and her family visited often.

"(We would) just spend all day, and you'd never have to leave," Cantrell recalled. "You could find just about everything that'd you'd want right there. You'd go home at 5, 6 o'clock in the evening, from the time they opened to the time they closed, and then you were just worn out."

Now that she lives in the area she says it is depressing to see the nearly abandoned building in Fantasy Harbour now.

However, economics professor Dr. Yoav Wachsman believes there is good reason to be optimistic about new owners. He said a new shopping center has potential, and it could help the entire area, particularly when it comes to hopes of re-opening freestyle music park.

"For one thing it increases visibility if you have people walking around the shopping mall they're very close physically to the theme park," Wachsman said.

Wachsman explained there are two things in particular that could help the new investment in Waccamaw Pottery as well as the potential reopening of Freestyle Music Park succeed. First, he said the economy is better - particularly better than when the park first opened as Hard Rock Park, and secondly infrastructure has improved. For example, the George Bishop Parkway bridge now connects Myrtle Beach International Airport to the Fantasy Harbour area.

"I don't think it's so much a question of geographic location," Wachsman said. "What the Waccamaw Pottery's got to think about is what the market niche is going to be for them."

He believes new shows, and other entertainment could be a good focus. The new owners could be thinking that way too. They say they do want to have some entertainment options.

Lots of renovations will be necessary. So the new owners admit while they would like to have some stores open this fall, significant improvements could take up to two years.

While the new owners figure that out, Cantrell will be waiting and holding out hope.

"It just seems like that there should be something there," she said.

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