MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Luxury hotels and condos line Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, attracting millions of people and bringing in big money. But one project is half-built and has been an eyesore for nearly six years now.
The Bali Bay Condominiums started as so many luxury projects did back in the boom of the construction industry. It was a grand design that spared no expense. But during construction, the economy tanked and accounts ran dry. Now this five story unfinished complex is a daily reminder of how bad it was for those who thought the bottom wouldn't fall out.
"The owner, moneywise, I think had to stop construction to try to salvage his losses," remembers Bruce Boulineau, Director of Construction Services for Myrtle Beach. "He held onto it as long as he could and the bank foreclosed on the property."
The initial building permit was issued in 2005 and nobody is sure when work stopped. The Bali Bay project was supposed to be developed at 701 South Ocean Boulevard as 12 luxury condos. Four of the condos were oceanfront; the other eight had ocean views. Each condo was going to be grand; the smallest at 3,000 sq. ft., would have seven bedrooms. The oceanfront penthouse suite, at 4,600 sq. ft, boasted eight bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms. Boulineau says the unfinished project is the biggest one he's seen in the city.
"This is the first one we've had in Myrtle Beach this size. We've had smaller ones that didn't make it all the way through but this is the largest one we've had this size," Boulineau explains.
The business owners nearby all have their theories as to why Bali Bay Condos failed. And they all said they want something done about the half-finished building, whether it gets completed or torn down. It's been at a standstill for years because Boulineau says the city has no authority to force the owner to do anything with the building.
"We enforce a property maintenance code trying to keep properties up and there's a part in the ordinance that allows you to board up an abandoned property, as long as homeless and vagrants are not there," he says. "They've got a six foot fence, so they keep it secure."
That six foot fence was broken when WMBF News visited the site and one business owner told Anchor Paula Caruso the trash that collects underneath the project is worse than looking at the building.
Boulineau says the building has a new owner who bought it out of foreclosure. According to county records, its current fair market value is more than $1 million, though most foreclosed buildings sell for well below market price. Boulineau says right now, there's about $5-6 million already in the ground and some engineers who've looked at the project think it is salvageable and can be finished.
WMBF News obtained a building permit issued on July 30, 2012 to a local contractor who wants to winterize the building by putting plywood over doors and windows. We called the owner's phone number, which is listed on the permit, and he claims they are doing research right now to figure out if it's worth it to finish Bali Bay Condos or if something else is needed in the area. WMBF News will keep working to figure out when that decision will be made.