Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance seeks help from businesses to revitalize arts district

City council to vote next week
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 11:15 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Bringing new life and safety to downtown Myrtle Beach is a central focus of a new non-profit.

The Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance, a new nonprofit made up of entrepreneurs and elected officials, is researching ways of bringing new life to downtown Myrtle Beach.

Improvements like more downtown housing, using some of the empty lots we see and make downtown more walkable.

There are some areas the downtown alliance admits could use some work, and they’ve signed up to do that work.

But first, they’re hoping downtown businesses will help them get started.

The first step in doing that is taking a look at similar areas, like Park Circle in North Charleston.

“Very similar to Broadway Street right here,” said Amy Barrett, the CEO of Myrtle Beach Downtown Alliance. “When we turned the corner, everyone was like, ‘Oh, okay, I see.’”

North Charleston started intensely working to improve the Park Circle area about 20 years ago, something the alliance is looking to do for Broadway Street downtown.

“The shape of the buildings, the way the buildings meet the street, the way the cars function is very similar to Broadway,” Barrett said.

The alliance is hoping downtown businesses will get involved in that vision, not just for Broadway Street, but for the whole downtown area.

“Those on council who were there that day walked away with a very good impression, said Brenda Bethune, mayor of Myrtle Beach. “Excited about what we’re doing.”

In order to pay for some of those improvements, the alliance is hoping to form a Municipal Improvement District from 21st Avenue North to 12th Avenue South.

Businesses in that district would see their property tax bills go up one percent on what they’re already paying each year.

“Myrtle Beach deserves some love, care and extra attention,” Bethune said. “That’s going to take a little bit of an investment.”

The downtown alliance estimates that a fraction of a percent from each business would add up to about $600,000.

The alliance would be tasked with making sure that money goes right back into improving the district on things like a new Greenway into the arts and innovation district, improved walkability around the Highway 501 realignment and attracting more downtown housing.

“I believe it’s a no-brainer that it’s going to pay off,” said Bethune.

The improvement district would last for 10 years, then the city would be able to look at ending it, extending it, or even adding more property to it.

The city council will take a deep dive into this topic at a workshop next week before voting on it the week after.

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