Myrtle Beach a finalist in Knight Challenge

Myrtle Beach a finalist in Knight Challenge

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The city of Myrtle Beach was recently announced as one of 145 finalists in the Knight Cities Challenge, which is part of an effort to improve the historic Myrtle Beach Train Depot.

There were initially 4,500 applications for the annual competition that allows cities to compete for a monetary grant prize.

Myrtle Beach entered the competition with their unique plan to improve the train depot. For years, it has been a venue for events, parties and meetings.

However, in recent times, especially over the holiday seasons, the events have outgrown the venue.

The depot is a registered historic landmark and its building cannot legally be touched.

Kelly Mezzapelle, a planner for the city of Myrtle Beach, came up with a solution that addressed both the lack of available space and keeping the depot's historic integrity intact.

"We were trying to figure out a creative way to add space to the depot without actually adding to the building, and the idea of train cars came up," Mezzapelle said.

Plans for those train cars include creating an outdoor stage out of a flatbed car, a meeting area out of a passenger car and a kitchen out of a caboose.

"A lot of people have events where they have to bring in a caterer and there's no caterer's kitchen," Mezzapelle said. "So that really is what started the conversation, was how could we figure out how to get a caterer's kitchen on the property without damaging the historic integrity of the building," said Mezzapelle.

By adding the train cars, the depot's space will expand and it will remain a registered historic landmark.

The final application for the Knight Challenge is due Jan. 20, and Mezzapelle is asking everyone to keep their fingers crossed.

"It's exciting to see that people in the community are looking for a cultural space in which to have their activities," she said. "They're looking for something different and they're looking for something unique, and we can offer that with the train depot."

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