Splishing and splashing out of the ocean may soon be easier for residents and visitors on the north Strand. North Myrtle Beach is moving forward in adding a water park at the new sports complex slated for opening in 2014.
City spokesman Pat Dowling said the council gave approval to the design about a month ago and is now in the process of negotiating a land lease agreement with private developers planning to construct the facility.
The combination of the sports complex and the thrill of the water park are a package that officials in North Myrtle Beach hope stimulate the economy year round.
The lease will designate a 5 to 7 acre space for the approximately $26 million water park at the back of the complex near the soccer fields and will likely include provisions for the city to operate the park in the event the developers default on their investment. Studies by the city, the developer and a third-party consultant indicate that scenario isn’t expected, though that was a concern for some given the failed Hard Rock Park in the Fantasy Harbour area.
Those fears center on the location west of the waterway, but the study by Attraction Consulting International said that shouldn’t be a problem for the park. ACI said Hard Rock Park failed because of the price of admission and the lack of a family-friendly theme. Additionally, the study found tourists don’t typically visit amusement rides during the day.
ACI said the location off S.C. 31 and the Robert Edge Parkway will provide visibility and easy access from anywhere on the Grand Strand and even Brunswick County, N.C.
Pricing will also be comparable to Wild Water and Wheels in Surfside Beach and Myrtle Waves in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
Outside of resorts, anyone on the north Strand has to head south to find a water park.
“Myrtle Waves and Wild Water and Wheels are great facilities,” Dowling said. “But if you’re here [in North Myrtle Beach] trying to get there it’s not much fun in the middle of summer traffic.”
The option of staying on the north end of town hopefully will keep some business in the city, said Marc Jordan, president of the North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re sending hundreds of thousands of people to other parts of the Grand Strand,” he said. “We’re building on each others economy but if we can keep them here we’ll want to do that. Folks are always going to drive to Myrtle Beach and Murrells Inlet or Georgetown, but this is a positive for North Myrtle Beach.”
Dowling said the water park could help seal the deal for teams considering competitions at the North Myrtle Beach Sport Complex.
About 10 attractions would be part of the parks opening in the summer of 2014 including a lazy river, wave pool and slides. More rides would be added two years later. Plans also include changing features every few years.
Along with the cost of leasing the land, the city would receive a portion of the profits of about $300,000 annually.
Dowling isn’t sure when the lease agreement will be ready for council approval, but said the city wants to move forward swiftly in order to have the park and the sports complex open simultaneously.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381.