Prep work for housing development unearths bunkers on former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base

jfrost@thesunnews.comOctober 19, 2012 

— The clearing of land to build a housing development near The Market Common has unearthed several former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base bunkers, which are visible from Farrow Parkway.

The property, on the former Air Force Base just off U.S. 17 Bypass, was previously used as a munitions storage area during World War II, according to a voluntary cleanup notice from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC is allowing KH Withers, LLC, to acquire and clean the property because of the potential for environmental pollution.

Crews started last week taking trees off the land, which covered the bunkers for years, as national builder Kolter Homes plans to build its Cresswind Active Adult community geared to residents 55 years old and older.

The development will include about 400 homes starting in the low $200,000 price range, as well as a clubhouse, fitness center, tennis courts, bocce ball and pickleball, said Darla Solomon, Kolter Homes LLC’s director of marketing.

The company is closing on the property next week and expects construction to start in a couple of months, project manager Bob Daurity said.

The thick, concrete bunkers will be removed, Solomon said.

For Buddy Styers, it is not surprising that the bunkers are still there after so many years.

There have been several proposed projects for that property that fell through, said Styers, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority. “There never has been any active development out there,” Styers said, recalling how he was last aware of the former base having the bunkers in 1995.

Even though the bunkers are going to be removed, Styers and Myrtle Beach city spokesman Mark Kruea said the city has gone to great lengths to preserve the former Air Force Base’s history: there are historical signs, streets named after individuals who were stationed there and remodeled buildings left on the former base, which closed in 1993.

Styers was an eighth grader living in Myrtle Beach when the property became an active air base for the U.S. Air Force in 1954.

“I have a connection to the base and never want anyone to forget the base was here,” Styers said.

Contact JANELLE FROST at 443-2404.

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