MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The majority of people who live in Myrtle Beach voted in November to bring a Performing Arts Center to the city, and raise property taxes to pay for it. Now nearly five months later, there still are no clear plans as to when the center will become a reality.
WMBF News is learning that vote didn't seal the deal, it was really just the beginning step to build the performing arts center. The property tax increase that kicks in next year will pay for the $10 million building next to the convention center, but there's plenty more to be paid for before we see any construction happening in this area.
City leaders say they want to figure out how to pay the continuous costs to keep the center running, before they will even begin to build. The main theater will seat more than 800 people, and have an expanded orchestra pit, which is a requirement to bring in national performances. There will also be a smaller box theater inside for rehearsals and movie showings. Based on the plans, costs are expected to be at least couple hundred thousand dollars per year.
Convention Center Manager Paul Edwards says those numbers mean there is still a while to go before significant progress is made on the project.
"I don't think it's anything that will, you know, not make it happen," said Edwards. "But it is something that we need to consider. I mean we don't need to rush into it saying, 'we'll we have the money to build it and let's just go ahead and do it.'"
Those involved with the performing arts center project are preparing a financial plan, and city council will discuss it all further at their budget retreat at the end of April.
There are several big plans to expand the convention center area in the future, and plenty of space. Currently there are about 85 free acres on the Convention Center property, and now there's new details about how it could change in the coming years. Myrtle Beach taxpayers may be familiar with the plans for the performing arts center and the Indoor Sports Facility, but there are more ideas to turn this area into another Grand Strand attraction. The city is in talks with an investor to move forward a 100,000 square foot outdoor amphitheater for concerts and shows. And there are also plans for another large addition to the Convention Center itself, which will be more than 500,000 square feet of hall space for conventions and trade shows.
With all this activity, people will need more access to the area, so there are plans to connect Founders Boulevard, near the Burroughs and Chapin Building, through to Grissom Parkway. Edwards says these are necessary moves for the growing future of Myrtle Beach.
"It would be an entertainment district, so to speak," explained Edwards. "And it's kind of one more piece of the puzzle that's missing in a city this size and the number of tourists we have."
Most of the entertainment district plans are several years out. But with the construction that's happening there now, Edwards assures they are making sure there's enough room for the future.