Small improvements are set to be made at Barefoot Landing in the next month under the new ownership of Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which has finalized its deal to buy the shopping, dining and entertainment complex, some Barefoot merchants said.
Fountains will be installed in parts of the 27-acre lake, music will again start playing throughout the center and some aging boards in the wooden walkways are set to be replaced, some tenants said.
“I’m just delighted,” said Rick Kligman, an owner of Klig’s Kites, which has stores at Barefoot and B&C’s Broadway at the Beach. “It shows a willingness to spend money to make the improvements that will help the center...It shows that they really mean to make this work.”
B&C, which had been working on the purchase of Barefoot Landing since making an offer in December, paid $43 million for the 64-acre complex, according to the Horry County Register of Deeds, which recorded the deal Friday. Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach, which has been under the ownership of several LLCs and Sammy Puglia, had been looking for a buyer for some time.
“When it was built, Barefoot Landing broke new ground as a shopping destination, and it remains a major attraction today,” Steve Warner, B&C’s senior vice president of capital strategies and investments, said in a news release. “We’re proud to be associated with the tradition and history that Barefoot Landing embodies.”
B&C met with Barefoot merchants Friday, outlining some short-term plans for the center, which opened in 1988 and has more than 100 stores, restaurants and attractions. Three attractions -- Alabama Theatre, Alligator Adventure and House of Blues -- will remain independently owned, though B&C will continue to market them as part of Barefoot promotions, B&C said.
B&C says it wants to attract more visitors to Barefoot Landing, which it says gets about 7 million visitors a year. Broadway, which opened in 1995, gets about twice that many. Several of the stores that operate at Broadway, including Klig’s Kites, Tiki Jims and others, also have locations at Barefoot.
“Our management and ownership of Broadway at the Beach has similarities with Barefoot Landing in its personality, and we share some of the same business owners in our portfolio,” Patrick Walsh, B&C’s senior vice president of asset management and commercial leasing, said in a news release. “So, we already have good relationships with many of the current merchants at Barefoot Landing.”
Barefoot merchants have been buzzing about the sale for months, many saying that the complex needs some physical improvements and better marketing. B&C, which owns a number of properties including Broadway at the Beach, Grande Dunes and shopping centers such as South Strand Commons on S.C. 544, seems to have the money to invest in Barefoot to improve it and lure more visitors, some tenants said, many of them citing how B&C runs Broadway.
“They have a larger pool of resources to draw from,” said Rich Vascovich, an operating partner of Flying Fish Public Market & Grill, which opened at Barefoot three years ago this week. “That is going to benefit us.”
B&C said that buying Barefoot Landing was a natural step for the company because of its experience with similar properties. Kligman likes what he’s heard from B&C so far about improving Barefoot.
“If B&C does half what it says it will, we cannot go wrong,” Kligman said. “This center could be what it was back in the ‘80s. [B&C is saying] we want to get it back to what it was.”
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