MYRTLE BEACH — The toned-down design of the proposed Hollywood Wax Museum that hopes to open next year in Myrtle Beach got a much better reception Thursday from the city’s Community Appearance Board, which bashed the original plan when it was first presented in January.
Gone are the Mount Rushmore-style feature on one side, the famous Hollywood sign on the other. Gone are the shooting stars around the main sign at the front of the building. The towering buildings flanked by King Kong – who will be known as the great ape of Myrtle Beach – have been scaled down from a peak of 100 feet to 80 feet.
The changes prompted the city board – which must OK the signs, landscaping and building exteriors of new development – to almost gush Thursday at the stripped-down design for the proposed attraction that wants to move into the former NASCAR Cafe building at the corner of 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass.
“You have done, quite frankly, a remarkable job in taking the board’s concerns while still making it an exciting venture,” board chairman Larry Bragg said. “There was much concern not only for the design, the garishness of some of the design, but the location itself.”
The attraction is sticking with the same location, but overhauled the planned look of it. Removing the Mount Rushmore and Hollywood sign on the sides gives the towering King Kong feature in the center more punch, Bragg said, “as opposed to all this mess ... down here.”
The welcome reception from the appearance board moves the attraction forward, but it still has a long way to go before opening, including getting a final nod from the city. Once the city signs off, overhauling the 26,000-square-foot building will take about 14 months, with the goal to open in May or June 2014, said Tej Sundher, a partner in the family-owned company that opened its first wax museum on Hollywood Boulevard in February 1965.
“There is a tremendous amount of work to do,” he said.
This would be the fourth Hollywood Wax Museum; the others are in Hollywood; Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Branson, Mo. The others have some of the exterior features such as the Mount Rushmore that had to be taken out of the proposed Myrtle Beach location.
“It’s a big change from the original [design] but I think we can still be successful,” Sundher said.
Though the appearance board liked the changes, several members still suggested it locate inside Broadway at the Beach, where outlandish designs such as the upside-down building of WonderWorks and Hard Rock Cafe’s pyramid are more welcomed.
Sundher said there wasn’t a vacant building large enough inside Broadway at the Beach to fit what the wax museum needs. NASCAR Cafe has sat vacant for more than five years, though renovations started a few years ago on a Pat Boone theater but it never opened.
Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which owns Broadway, also owns the former NASCAR Cafe building and is working with the wax museum.
“I’d still say put [Hollywood Wax Museum] over there [at Broadway at the Beach] next to Ripley’s,” Bragg said. “But I wish you well. I hate to see that corner vacant...I’m certainly delighted to get any new businesses in town.”
Sundher said the attraction will hold the wax museum with life-size wax figures of celebrities but also will have two other museums, but he declined to give details about those Thursday.
The attraction, which will have between 30 and 35 employees once it opens, will operate year round.
“Myrtle Beach is a great complement to what our brand is,” Sundher said. “We are excited to come here.”
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