Proposed project would turn Driftwood hotel into 26-story high rise

Proposed project would turn Driftwood hotel into 26-story high rise

. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the business day came to a close Tuesday, the doors shut for the last time at one Myrtle Beach oceanfront resort.

As of midnight Wednesday, Driftwood at the Boardwalk employees said the property turned over to new ownership.

The new owner is planning for all three buildings on the property to eventually be torn down. In their place, a 26-story high rise will be built.

The proposed resort is being called Ocean 16 in its early conceptual stage. As its name would suggest, the property is right at the intersection of 16th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard, where each of the Driftwood buildings currently stand.

This project would essentially revamp much of the city block it will be built within.

Across the street is a currently empty lot used for parking between Withers Drive and Ocean Boulevard. A preview center is planned for people interested in the new units.

Across 16th Avenue North, a large five-story parking garage will be built.

A man who identified himself as an employee of Driftwood at the Boardwalk under its previous ownership said the owner surprised the staff in January by announcing the resort had been sold. He said he's fielded calls from families looking to book a room this summer, but has had to tell them the news.

The employee said he is worried about Myrtle Beach's transitioning landscape, where the mom-and-pop locations seem to keep selling for demolition, causing the oceanfront to lose its charm and affordability.

"Well, the sad part are the families that have depended on this type of property that do not like the high rises," he said. "And I'm excited about a new venture and a new landscape. But the disappointing part is for the families to find a nice property on the ocean that is affordable."

The Driftwood isn't going anywhere right away. The employee said he was under the impression that the rooms will be rented out to J1 students through the 2016 tourist season.

The intention of the developers is to create a very pedestrian-friendly, urban vibe to the whole block. The project includes building a pedestrian greenway from Chapin Park, which is undergoing its own renovation, all the way to a new park beside the high rise.

The design team said it's goal was to create a pedestrian friendly greenway connecting Kings Highway, Chapin Park all the way to the beach and make it safe and easy for people to be outside. The street corners will have plazas, benches, and areas for people to sit and stop, giving an urban feel to the small slice of downtown.

:It's something modern, something new," said David Sebok, President of the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. "It'll create density, more density closer to the downtown, which is good for downtown businesses."

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