MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach city leaders are working hard to make downtown the heart of the community again, but it will require significant work and consistent community support to achieve that vision.
The future looks bright for the city of Myrtle Beach. The downtown master plan focuses on four sections of the city: the Broadway section, also called "Historic Main Street," the Kings Highway corridor, the oceanfront, and an arts district.
Right now, the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation is working to implement Phase 1 of the downtown master plan that was adopted in March.
Lauren Clever with the MBDRC says they’re mainly working on the front-end items as they move through the process with infrastructure as a big focus. The master plan will have a lot of traffic changes, including the realignment of U.S. 501, which is set to begin construction in spring 2022. Plans also include making improvements to roadways and intersections. The goal is to make downtown Myrtle Beach a pedestrian-friendly, walkable and bikeable location.
The Myrtle Beach Technology Advisory Group (TAG), formed last year to cater to tech savvy people and companies, is planning to create a tech co-working space, and a building has already been found for them to work out of.
Clever says when it comes to private investment happening in the downtown area, there’s already been an estimate of around $140 million since the adoption of the master plan in March, with even more potential new development to come in the future.
Several projects in the arts district, like the new CCU performing arts center, would bring new cultural attractions within the city’s historic buildings and add more walkable areas.
Clever says she’ll be attending a meeting on July 26 to hopefully receive a national historic designation. If approved, it allows for incentives to be put in place on the state and federal level for businesses to tap into historic tax credits.
"So if you wanted to restore it back towards what it needs to be, there’s an opportunity to get some tax credits and some equity to help you do that. And you don’t have to, even though the area is designated as the historic district doesn’t mean you have to do that, it’s just an opportunity. So that gives an incentive and an enticement for somebody to want to be here as a business,” said Clever.
The City Square and Arts District is an idea that formed earlier this year during public input sessions. It would be centered around the “Super Block” core, potentially adding unique businesses like brew pubs, a food hall and apartments.
In order to do this, the city is working on a zoning ordinance for an Arts and Innovation District. The ordinance would focus on what it would look like in regards to signage, parking and building height requirements. Clever says this would play a key role in revitalizing the downtown area.
“When you hear arts and innovation, you think creative, you think different, you think funky, vibrant, colorful. So that’s the kind of thing we’re hoping that this ordinance will be flexible enough to allow for and understanding that that’s what we’re looking for," said Clever.
The proposed zoning ordinance for the Arts and Innovation District will be presented at the city workshop meeting on Aug. 1.