Future of the former historic Myrtle Beach Pavilion is still unknown

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The historic former Myrtle Beach Pavilion is now home to a handful events throughout the year, but some people want to see activity there all year round.

It is remembered with rich history, excitement in the heart of Myrtle Beach known nationwide. For decades, many remember the roller coaster rides near the beach. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said she grew up remembering.

"I love the history of what it holds, but it's just that, we are never going to have the Pavilion back and that's okay, because there may be something bigger and more relevant to today," said Bethune.

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The future of the approximately $12 million site is still unknown.

"The land owners need to tell the city and we want to continue to foster the relationship we have with Burroughs and Chapin," Bethune said. "For anything to be successful we, the city, have to be the catalyst to make that happen and committed to doing so. The city is putting in a lot of hard work and efforts into finding the right people to come to the table and work with strategic planning on the Superblock and all of downtown and are committed to moving forward."

Bethune said the Pavilion is an important component with what happens to downtown, because of its great location, not only to the ocean but to the main downtown area. Bethune believes it does not have to be the top priority in order for the city to spur on development all around downtown.

There's a lot of discussion about redevelopment, period. Lauren Clever, executive Director for the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation said. The most important thing to Clever is making sure development is a collaborative effort. There's a lot of focus on the Superblock area and it could be the catalyst in getting things started, Clever said.

"There's a lot of things that are underutilized in downtown area, too," she added. "The Pavilion does serve as the location for events right now and until Burroughs and Chapin decide what it wants to do, we won't know. I'm thankful they allow us to hold the ground lease and to activate it as the site for hosting events."

Clever said in order to decide what the anchor is, there must be a strategic plan that involves everyone collaboratively.

Former Myrtle Beach City councilman Wayne Gray believes the Pavilion site is underdeveloped and underutilized.

"I was a kid that grew up here and had fond memories of coming to the Pavilion," Gray said. "I worked here in high school and college, and remember being at the beach. I want people to have those same memories."

Gray believes the Pavilion is the anchor.

"This could be Myrtle Beach's Central Park, this could be Myrtle Beach's Millennial Park - that is in Chicago," he said. "The idea of great cities having great public spaces that attract people with passive and active activities has been around since the beginning of mankind, so it's not a novel idea."

Gray went on to say, "As the anchor, it demands a vision, plan, partnership, funding and commitment to a new purpose. Until that happens, all new and existing redevelopment just nibble at the edges of meaningful downtown redevelopment. The ongoing uncertainty of the Pavilion site also impedes new development in the South Mixed-Use Area, whose vacancy and inactivity reminds us of the emptiness of downtown. This is no criticism of the Pavilion site owner, the city, anything or anyone.  It is just a reality of the situation and its importance to the progress of Myrtle Beach's future."

Bryan Bomar, employee at the 8th Ave. Tiki Bar & Grill right across from the site, remembers when it was a rollercoaster park.

"Right now it's zip lines and open trees, and grass that's basically a walk through area and that's about it," Bomar said, adding that he wants to see all year round momentum. "I would love an auditorium, an open air auditorium with concerts, live events, anything. Even a sports venue to get outdoor activities like more baseball fields with a constant crowd to get people down here, that's not just for the beach itself."

Gray said he does not want to criticize the people involved.

"I want to applaud the country music fest, the Salt Games, the food truck festival, the seafood festival, imagine if we had that activity every weekend or every day," he said. "Maybe this is the grand public space that is a better version of what it already is that is aesthetically pleasing and investment made into the infrastructure," stated Gray.

The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation is compiling information from the collaborative meetings held the past three months and Clever said it will present it to Myrtle Beach City Council in the next month or two.

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