MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The owners of Levelz Bar and Grill, formerly located in the Five Points of "Superblock" area of Myrtle Beach, have filed a suit against their landlord, the city and the county, claiming Myrtle Beach and Horry County in 2014 began a campaign of harassment to shut down businesses deemed undesirable to the area.
The lawsuit, filed February 2, alleges that beginning in 2014, Club Levelz was targeted by the City of Myrtle Beach and Horry County. The suit cites numerous examples of police officers being dispatched to the area, several times finding marijuana in the possession of the bar's patrons.
In one example, the city was notified that the owner had sold fireworks without a proper license to do so, and the Fire Marshall was notified. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the owner had served sparklers in a special drink at the bar.
In another example, the suit claims that as many as 10 officers were in the building at one time while the city conducted multiple walkthroughs of the club.
The suit goes on to claim that the city contacted the property's landlord, with whom the owners had signed a five-year lease, and provided her with a notice of public nuisance, stating that the "property is reportedly being used for the unlawful possession and sale of controlled substances and for continuous breach of peace."
After receiving this notice, the landlord terminated the lease with the club owners. The owners also decided to sell their business in response to the city and county's "harassment and intimidation tactics." After they found a buyer for the business, the suit alleges that the buyer was "interrogated" by the city as to the business she intended to open, which caused her to withdraw from the sale.
The owners stated in the suit that they operated their business within accordance with the law, and any issues with drug violations, fighting and public intoxications were "dealt with properly and in accordance with the law." The suit also states that their business had nothing to do with the fatal shooting that occurred near the club on February 15, 2015.
The suit claims that the city significantly misrepresented the situation, which led to their landlord prematurely ending the lease agreement with the owners.
The suit seeks actual, consequential, and special damages from having to close Club Levelz just 10 months into their five-year lease, after four months of renovations to the property and only six months of operation.