MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Soon, the construction site at the former Shrine Club on Restaurant Row will give way to the Grand Strand's newest attraction: a multi-level go-cart track.
"It's not on the ground. It's elevated and it spirals up three levels, totally constructed out of wood," Chris Bethea, a partner at TMB-1, the group developing the track. "So it'll be unique."
It's a project that saw its fair share of controversy when developers were seeking approval from the city to build. It's that controversy, developers say, that molded the project into something better than they originally planned.
But it took a lot of work to get construction started. "The Track has been a long time coming. It's a project that has taken over two years to put together from the first time we talked with the Shriners about their property that was for lease," Bethea said.
Bethea and the design team extensively discussed the project with the City of Myrtle Beach.
"We were required to have hearings and so forth with some of the neighbors that had raised some concerns. And so from the city and the CAB, they facilitated meetings where we could sit down with the neighborhoods and exchange ideas and hear their concerns."
Throughout the approval process, neighbors were very outspoken with worry over the noise, lighting and the environmental impacts of gas emissions.
"Their concerns were initially gasoline engines and fumes and noise," Bethea said. "The sightlines from some of the neighborhoods, particularly across the waterway. And through the direction of the CAB in Myrtle Beach and the people downtown, we came up with ways to address each of those problems."
Those concerns, Bethea said, improved the project.
"The give and take and the compromise that was involved here, and us ultimately turning this product into a green product, which will eliminate noise, it will eliminate fumes, there'll be no gasoline engines, there'll be no fossil fuels, everything is LED. It will be totally green. "
As for a possible unsightly view from the neighborhood to the track, "We put in extensive landscaping in the rear of the property and on the sides to buffer our neighbors," Bethea explained.
For the business owners on Restaurant Row, the go-cart track will be more than another Grand Strand attraction. It's one in their part of town, where a handful of places are closed and abandoned.
"We hope that what we do here will spur along perhaps some of these businesses down the street, maybe new restaurants will move in," Bethea added.
The plan is to open by June 1, 2016. "I think there'll be 75 to 85 jobs in the end when we get done."
"I think the environment wins, I think the community wins, the Shriners win because they're staying on the property. We're actually building them a meeting space above the arcade that will allow them to stay and enjoy this property. We create a business here that wasn't here before, we create a tax base."