. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot may see some major, and majorly unique, changes in the future. The plans have been put in motion for several months now, and City of Myrtle Beach leaders hope to make the project happen sooner rather than later.
As the city examined what it needs to make the many events held there run smoothly, it looked into expanding and bringing in three retired train cars to fill its needs.
The train depot has been in Myrtle Beach since 1937, so when officials started talking about renovating and adding on, not just any kind of addition would do.
Each of the three train cars will serve a different purpose to help make events one-of-a-kind.
"The vision is to put two or three train cars here on these tracks and use them as a catering space," according to Fox Simons, assistant city manager for Myrtle Beach. "One would be a flatbed for concerts. We would retrofit it for bands. And the other would be a meeting car. It would be sort of an old passenger car renovated for a meeting space."
The plan evolved from a single need.
"The catering situation, the way it was, we needed to do something," Simons said. "We talked about ... erecting a building. Then, through the course of conversation, someone came up with the idea of, 'Hey, what about a train car?' Then that led to, 'What about R.J. Corman?' And that led to, 'Where we are now?"
The plan for the flatbed would bring something very new to the area by allowing the city to have open-air concerts in the spring summer and fall..
R.J. Corman's involvement happened when the rail operator decided to come to the Myrtle Beach area. Simons explained the company was interested in getting involved in the community.
"That led to the conversation of, 'This is what we've got going on and would you be able to help us out?'" he said. "And they were very eager to help. And so they've identified three cars and got them primed and ready to go."
There's only one snag in the plan; the cars are in Kentucky.
"We've just got to get them here," Simons said. "Right now, our cost for getting them from Kentucky to here is about $25,000 a car."
The city has estimated the renovations for the cars will cost $77,000. That cost does not include transporting the cars. Now, officials are looking at alternate, less-expensive ways to ship them to Myrtle Beach.
City leaders are working with R.J. Corman officials on a solution. Simons said he would like to find a way to "piggy-back" the cars when a train makes a long haul toward this way. The project has hit a bit of a stall, but Simons and city spokesperson Mark Kruea were hopeful that will change soon.
The renovations will add the the atmosphere already inside the depot, whose walls tell the story of its history. That history chronicles the train engineer who worked for 51 years to the time capsule that was sealed in 2004.
"It gives another component to the atmosphere of being in a train depot, having catering in a train car, having your meeting in a train car," Simons said. "It's just another amenity to the facility to make it that much more exciting and appealing to the community."
Most weekends, the train depot is booked solid. Simons said the unique event space would help with another of the city's goals.
"We hope that this could act as a catalyst to help further development of this area," he said. "That's a goal of ours. We hope that by adding this we'll add more synergy (and) more people to the community, (which) will add to the further development."
The city has to get the cars here before any work can be started. The project isn't set in stone until it becomes feasible.