Myrtle Beach lifts moratorium on new drinking establishments in downtown area

Updated: Oct. 8, 2019 at 6:44 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – Myrtle Beach leaders have rescinded a moratorium on new nightclubs, bars, and other drinking establishments in the downtown area now known as the arts and innovation district.

The Myrtle Beach City Council approved the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting. At issue was the city’s moratorium that was imposed in December 2015 following a number of “significant criminal activities” in the area, which was previously referred to as the Superblock.

According to that 2015 ordinance, drinking establishments in the area negatively affected public safety, health and welfare as well as business diversity.

The ordinance passed Tuesday reflects that “the Planning Commission has fulfilled City Council’s request to study such uses in the area now known as the Arts and Innovation District, and that, pursuant to that study, zoning regulations have now been adopted for that area.”

Passage of the ordinance comes as the city council was also set to vote Tuesday on the sale of a two-story building in the arts and innovation district.

Grand Strand Brewing Company plans to open a new microbrewery on the first floor. Currently, it is set to be operational by summer 2020.

“Today we can say that Myrtle Beach is at the cusp of a renaissance and the future of Myrtle Beach is now and you all are a part of that,” Mayor Brenda Bethune said.

The landscape architect for Grand Strand Brewing Company said the brewery will bring “an addition of life” to downtown Myrtle Beach.

The top floor will be the home of an event space.

"It will primarily be an event venue, so that opens opportunities for social and corporation gatherings, wedding receptions, weddings, any relation driven events,” co-owner of The Maker Exchange, Kendall Seagroves, said.

But they aren’t stopping there.

“I also believe that artisans and makers and innovators should have a platform to teach their craft. Maybe you teach yoga and you would love to have a yoga shop,” said Lauren Riddei, co-owner of The Maker Exchange.

The possibilities are endless and for the bottom of the building, a brewery.

“Every brewery has a tour, folks are fascinated, who know nothing or very little and they see the process happening in front of them and they are tasting the result,” brewery landscape architect, Todd Richardson, said.

Now the arts and innovation district doesn’t allow bars or nightclubs, so you may be wondering how is this brewery allowed to open its doors?

“It’s not the question of selling alcohol, it’s the question of it is a bar or nightclub,” Myrtle Beach Spokesman Mark Kruea said. "The micro-brewery while it will sell some alcohol, that sort of micro-brewery use is contemplated and allowed as part of the arts and innovation district.

One of the architects, Luke Jarrett, is from Myrtle Beach, and he said there’s a disconnect with locals and tourists and he’s hoping this brewery will bridge the gap.

“People just don’t end up in the same place and that causes the visitors to miss the opportunity to engage with local people and get a real sense of culture and vice versa," Jarrett said. "Breweries are one of those areas where everyone is going to go.”

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