Charlie's Place motel demolition temporarily suspended

Charlie's Place motel demolition temporarily suspended

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Officials with the city of Myrtle Beach decided this week to postpone the demolition of the Charlie's Place motel.

Councilman Michael Chestnut said the suspension happened because of concerns from neighbors who were worried about what the community might lose in tearing down the building.

"They said, 'Mike, before we tear it all down, let's slow down a little bit. I would love to see some of this building saved,' and that's what I kept hearing from several different people in the community," Chestnut said.

He added the council also wanted another chance to regroup with the Charlie's Place Committee to make sure they are heading in the right direction and to inform the community about what is happening with its plans.

"There's no rush to do this, so that's why I think council felt, 'Let's just put it off. Let's give everybody a chance to talk again,'" Chestnut said.

A post on The Charlie's Place Facebook page Saturday stated, "This is one of the last-standing structures listed in the historic 'negro travelers green book.' It is an American treasure. We Salute Councilman Michael Chestnut! Thanks to his political courage, the demolition of the Fitzgerald is suspended for now."

Herbert Riley, president of the Carver Street Economic Renaissance, said their group never agreed with tearing Charlie's Place down. Chestnut said the property will not sit idle for long.

"I can  promise you, it won't be another two or three years," Chestnut said. "It could be a couple of months, I don't know, but the most important thing we want to do is stop right now before we tear it completely down and get everybody together again. We want to make sure there's a clear understanding about what the city is talking about and what the community wants."

People who look at the property now may find it hard to believe that great singers and entertainers like B.B. King, Etta James and James Brown performed and stayed on the vacant lot and abandoned motel located on Carver Street and 21st Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.

But members of the Carver Street Economic Renaissance said back in 1937, a black man by the name of Charlie Fitzgerald was the mastermind behind Charlie's Place. Some say it was once known as the hottest nightclub in the south.

During a time when racial segregation was tense, the popular Myrtle Beach club and entire Carver street area would see all walks of life come together, connected by the universal language of music.

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