Grand Strand hotel construction at a halt

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's been several years since a new hotel has been built along the Grand Strand and only one of three new hotel projects is still underway on Ocean Boulevard.

The new Hilton Hotel is being built on 21st Ave. N and Ocean Blvd. and is set to open in 2015, but elsewhere, construction on two hotels has been put on hold.

If plans for a new Homewood Suites Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center were not at a halt, it would be the second new hotel in the works since 2009.

This hotel was set to be alongside the Hampton Inn & Suites at 18th Ave. S and Ocean Boulevard.

"The project did go to the community appearance board, it did get approval but it just hasn't happened, it hasn't materialized at this point," says city spokesperson Mark Kruea. "Certainly the demand has increased over the last several years but the money has to be available too, to build a high rise hotel."

Manager of the Hampton Inn blames the hold on the economy; however, Sonship Hospitality owns both properties and President Buddy Lindsay says he has no concrete reason behind holding off on the project.

He says plans will pick up in the next year or two and the vacant lot will have a high rise Homewood Suites tower in its place.

There has been talk about a resort near 2nd Ave. pier, but in order to be built, it would have to be approved by the city.

"The Residence Inn project has just been talked about it has not been a formal presentation, it has not been to the community appearance board so it's not as though that one was on the drawing board and has dropped off," says Kruea.

Buddy Lindsay confirms this hotel is not part of his future construction plans and he does not own this property.  His focus for the future is the Homewood Suites.

The city, however, says talk for new hotels is common because they attract and accommodate new first time visitors to the Grand Strand.

"Today's vacationers are looking for the newer properties, those things with all of the amenities that their family can enjoy, and that's where a new hotel comes in," says Kruea.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has set the goal for 1.5 million first time vacationers in the new year. While the demand for hotels increases, the money to build them has to be there as well.

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