MARION COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The amphitheater within the Swamp Fox Entertainment Complex will be removed as the owner takes the property in a new direction.
Owner Robert Hartmann plans to build 1,800 cottage homes beginning this summer.
In addition to housing, Hartmann plans on adding retail space and a 650,000 square-foot Entertainment Park.
A gas station, bank, walk-in medical clinic and restaurants are some of the ideas for the retail space, according to Hartmann.
Hartmann purchased the property in 2014. He planned to transform the empty amphitheater into a major music and multi-day event venue. At the time, the revitalization project was expected to generate hundreds of jobs and generate millions of dollars for the area.
The venue hosted a few biker events but weather and other challenges prevented Hartmann’s initial dream from reaching its full potential.
“He’s had several major shows that have been put off by hurricanes or other major storm events, which created a real problem, so the vision at this point is to come up with a similar type idea, a community where people can have the live music and can have the outdoors and enjoy this area as part of the residential component,” said Steve Strickland, president of the EarthWorks Group.
Earthworks is working with Hartmann on developing the property.
Initial site plans obtained by WMBF News reveal the development will consist of a residential community surrounded by a small town, similar to The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
The plans also show space for an RV park, a community pool, parks, and pickleball courts.
Strickland said condos will also be on-site and eventually offer rental options to visitors.
The plan keeps the natural lakes on the property. Strickland said restaurants and open-air entertainment spaces will be built around the water.
“At this point and time, I think one of the more exciting parts of Bob’s vision for this is to be able to incorporate some open space and park space that connects the residential community into the commercial portion of the village so no matter where you’re at at the site, you’ve got a walkway you can stroll along,” Strickland said.
Marion County Councilman Allen Floyd predicted the project will be a ‘win-win.’
“I think that’s wonderful. We’ve known for a long time that it’s just a matter of time before people start moving here because we are kind of wedged between Florence County and Myrtle Beach and Horry County, so they’re going to come to find out what we really have to offer,” Floyd said.
In recent years, Marion County has significantly decreased its unemployment rate and attracted new industries.
Dr. Julie Norman with the Marion County Economic Development Commission said the county gained four new companies in 2019. She noted there is a need for housing to keep up with the increased industry growth.
South Carolina Sen. Kent Williams, Marion (D), agreed that more housing is needed within the county, especially as many residents still recover from recent hurricanes.
“I think it’s got a lot of potential. It would definitely, if it comes to fruition, would mean a lot to Marion County and this region in my opinion and we would welcome that opportunity here. We would love to see that develop,” Williams said.
Leaders and developers are hoping the property’s location between Florence and Horry counties will attract buyers who are moving to the state.
Strickland predicts the entire plan will take six to 10 years to fully develop and plans may change along the way.
“It’s a living plan and this is just a concept of what the goal is,” he said.
The Marion County Planning Commission approved the conceptual plans last fall. Next, the county will have to approve construction plans and permits.
Strickland said he hopes to begin construction on the first phase of homes this summer so they can be fully developed by the end of 2020.
He said he also hopes the commercial component of the property will begin to be built following the construction of the homes.