Charlie's Place gets a place as a finalist for a national contest

Charlie's Place gets a place as a finalist for a national contest

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Grand Strand is on the map for a national contest, Knight Cities Challenge. Charlie's Place, now a finalist, could be chosen as the winner.

The historic Myrtle Beach building has been chosen as one of 158 finalists in the national competition against 4,500 applicants.

If chosen, it would get a portion of $5-million, according to a press release, which would help restore the historic entertainment venue.

Beginning in the 1930s, Charlie's Place, named after owner Charlie Fitzgerald, became the hot spot for many well-known musicians, including Marvin Gaye and Billie Holiday.

Many say in its heyday, the hotel and venue broke racial barriers, because if you liked music and to dance, Charlie's Place was simply, the place to be.

"Segregation by day and integration by night at charlie's place because whites and blacks danced and listened to great music together," City of Myrtle Beach Neighborhood Services Director Edna Wright said.

While the Fitzgerald Motel, sits still, as a dilapidated building along Carver Street, plans to develop it, are moving along.

As a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge, there's an opportunity, if chosen, to get the funds needed to restore the location, in a different way.

Wright submitted the project, to the non profit's contest, with the idea to turn it into essentially a museum, in a market.

"Maybe we take some of the memorabilia and pictures of the artists and incorporate that into the market," Wright said. "Over here in the vegetables you might see something about little Richard and learn something about his history, maybe you could push a button and hear one of his particular songs."

Wright said the ideas and concepts are unlimited.

It could also be a great opportunity for some business development as a hub for people who wanted to do start up businesses, according to Wright.

Charlie's place is so important to the city, that leaders purchased the land last year to keep it from becoming a site of new housing, according to city leaders. Even if we don't win, the location is still a focus this year, for Myrtle Beach.

If you want to get involved in the future of this property, a meeting will be held on January 20th at 4 p.m. at the Mary C. Canty Recreation Center.

"The architectural firm will be there to hear your ideas about how to redevelop the site and share information about a grant opportunity," according to a flyer from the city.

Winners of the contest will be announced in the spring.

The Knight Cities Challenge is run by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Its the second year for the event which calls for ideas to make the 26 communities where Knight invests more vibrant places to live and work.

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