MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The conceptual sketches first showed up January 24. Easels holding the drawings flanked Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes as he introduced the grand plan.
That same day, the city said the sketches were prepared by LS3P. A WMBF News Investigation found the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation wrote two checks for $625 each to LS3P. One was for the sketches, one was to have them printed.
During the announcement, the city pointed out Lizzie Daniels is on the DRC board and she works for LS3P. WMBF News also found Jim Hubbard is LS3P's Myrtle Beach Office Leader and a member the city's community appearance board.
Both Hubbard and DRC Executive Director David Sebok directed us to city spokesman Mark Kurea when we requested interviews.
Kurea said there's no concern in this case about a conflict of interest.
"Not for a project of this size, no," he said. The company provided a professional service at a price that didn't require a bid process.
"If you were talking about a million dollars it would be a different answer," Kruea said. "We needed some illustrations for the project. This was a very affordable way to do it. Our volunteers on the boards and commissions we have are people in the community. They have jobs and lives and businesses. Sometimes, they may be able to provide a service to the city or the community that somebody else can't. This is certainly within the confines of the city code, it easily meets the requirements of the city code."
The CAB would eventually approve the final design of the library and museum, and it could look very different than the sketches presented two months ago.
The city doesn't have a standing contract with LS3P for work like this.
"This is simply illustration boards for the purpose of the announcement so that people could get a concept, a feel for what that street that corner of the Superblock might look like at some point down the road. That's all this was," Kruea said. "This is not a final design by any means. As part of the conversation here, we talked about two stories one story, roof deck, that sort of part of it. That's just to create the drawings for the purposes of the announcement."
A lot will need to happen before we see a finished product. The city must acquire all of the land, then figure out a way to pay for the project.
"That is an ongoing discussion," Kruea said. "I wouldn't expect to see activity on the Superblock at least until 2018, in all likelihood."
Preview the designs for the library and children's museum in the document below: