Citing city resistance, Florida company abandons plan to bring carnival to former Pavilion site

mprabhu@thesunnews.comApril 22, 2013 

— A Florida company has chosen not to submit an application with the city’s Community Appearance Board to bring a summer-long carnival to the former Pavilion site after hearing there was resistance from the City Council.

Jay Strates, owner of Orlando, Fla.-based Strates Shows, informed Heidi Soos with the CAB on Monday morning that the company will not file an application.

“We heard from some of our contacts in the area that there was some resistance to us coming,” Strates said.

Strates said if the company submitted the application to the city it would need to dedicate certain rides to Myrtle Beach. He said there are opportunities in other parts of the country where the rides could be used if they were not placed in Myrtle Beach.

“If we got denied [in Myrtle Beach], we would miss out on those opportunities,” he said.

Strates Shows proposed a summer-long carnival that would feature rides, games and concessions from June to September that would sit on a four-acre portion of the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park grounds, next to Adrenaline Adventures Zip Line, which opened on part of the site a year ago. Strates was working with Burroughs and Chapin Co. Inc., who owns the land.

B&C declined to comment on Strates Shows pulling out of the application process. The company also would not comment on whether there was a plan to put something else on the Pavilion grounds this summer.

“While there have been several iterations of plans on the Pavilion property, market conditions will ultimately dictate its use,” B&C spokeswoman Lei Gainer said last week in an email. “The 12-acre site represents a large portion of the downtown area. Burroughs & Chapin is committed to downtown and Myrtle Beach, and so the ultimate use of that land will certainly be one that the entire Myrtle Beach community will be proud of.”

City Council members said Thursday during their budget retreat in Pinopolis that they did not want the “out-of-market” business to benefit from the work the city and downtown businesses have done to improve the area during the past few years.

Council members also said they were afraid that bringing carnival rides back to the area would undermine the development that’s taken place in that area over the past few years including the 1.2-mile boardwalk.

“It doesn’t keep in line with the progress that’s happened in that part of town,” Councilman Wayne Gray said last week.

A lot of money has been spent in downtown Myrtle Beach in recent years as the city worked to improve the area and the Downtown Redevelopment Corp. was created to “facilitate the revitalization of downtown Myrtle Beach,” according to the website.

In response to Strates Shows’ interest in having a temporary carnival in town, the council is scheduled to have first reading of an ordinance on Tuesday that would suspend any permits from being issued in AC-3 zones, which includes the Pavilion area, for a business that would include temporary amusement rides.

“We don’t want it and we want to know from legal what we can do about it,” Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said Thursday.

The ordinance puts a moratorium on the issuing of business, construction or any other necessary licenses for a business that would include temporary amusement rides in AC-3 zones while the Planning Commission looks into the amount and type of amusement rides that should be allowed in the area, city attorney Tom Ellenburg said. The AC-3 zone includes areas such as the Family Kingdom area, the former NASCAR Cafe building at the corner of 21st Avenue North and U.S. 17 Bypass as well as the former Pavilion area.

Council members said they likely will hear the proposed ordinance on Tuesday and decide how the city should move forward.

“It’s on the agenda, so I’m sure we’ll be listening to the ordinance [as proposed],” Mayor John Rhodes said. “I’m sure we’ll probably be moving forward in some way.”

Rhodes said he was glad that Strates Shows isn’t moving forward with the application.

“We’ve got people who worked and worked hard to put in money to build their business,” he said. “We need people that will be a part of the community.”

Strates said he hoped to revisit the possibility of bringing his carnival to Myrtle Beach in the future.

“I was kind of sad to see the resistance,” he said Monday. “I think it would have benefitted those businesses right in that area. We will see, maybe in the future.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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