MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle Beach is taking steps forward to bring big change to its downtown area. City leaders will hear a consultant's thoughts on new development.
The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation brought in the Urban Land Institute (ULI) as fresh eyes for city leaders. Wednesday, the group will reveal final recommendations for the area.
The ULI didn't just look at the Old Pavilion area, but 75 acres downtown. A focus was the area between 7th Avenue North and 1st Avenue North between the Ocean and Kings Highway. This also includes nearby areas in need of fixing, like the big empty lot near the Children's Museum.
David Sebok with the DRC said the city will reveal sketches from an architect at Wednesday's meeting, who incorporated all the recommendations and ideas from ULI for development moving forward.
"That includes an amphitheater, some hotels, some restaurants and some interesting things that all kind of fit together with the ULI recommendations for that particular area," Sebok said.
New housing is also a suggestion for the downtown area, especially near Flagg and Chester Streets. The ULI recommended adding smaller homes, beach houses, or apartments. Since the space is so close to the beach, the idea is to capitalize on "beach living," and keeping people in the area, year-round.
Local business owners said they want a focus to be on bringing in more entertainment, because that's what brings the bucks to the downtown area.
"The more things like that we can do, the better," said co-owner of Boardwalk Coffeehouse Deann Sarver. "I really feel Myrtle Beach can handle it, because they've got all the hotels, all the restaurants and everything that we need for that kind of stuff."
Sarver says, plain and simple, entertainment draws both locals and visitors, and makes business boom. She used the Carolina Country Music Concert in June as an example. Just the speedy ticket sales is a sheer indication, that's what people want to see.
"Entertainment has proven to be a very positive addition to the downtown area," said Sebok. "In particular, it's brought on new businesses, special attractions, like the country music fest or Hot Summer Nights.Those bring new and existing people into the downtown area, which creates business opportunity."
Sebok said one of the most-talked-about issues after the ULIs findings are revealed will be the Pavilllion site, because it has always been the "big deal," and "a big opportunity." He said when the site gets redeveloped, it will be a game changer.
Local business owners say another game changer would be to simply clean up the area and make it more safe.
Developing downtown Myrtle Beach won't happen overnight; change takes time, but it starts now.
The next step, moving forward, is for city council members and the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation to agree on the top priorities.
Sebok said, already the new city manager has incorporated some of the recommendations we will hear Wednesday, into the city's goals for this year. Some goals include voluntary clean up days, increased code enforcement and the 501 realignment with Kings Highway.
There are some challenges in the way. For example, the city doesn't own some of the properties in question and some are tied up in multiple ownerships, according to Sebok. These are hurdles he hopes to jump, starting this Spring.
The DRC paid $7,500 for the study from the ULI but said we got that at a low cost, it could have been up to $80,000 to $100,000.
The final recommendations will be made today at 4:00 p.m. before city council at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot, located at 851 Broadway Street.