A high-profile Myrtle Beach building that for years was all things NASCAR is being transformed into a testament to Hollywood.
Crews have been busy in recent weeks hoisting steel and renovating a 26,000-square-foot building that will become the Hollywood Wax Museum – with a distinguishing exterior complete with an oversized awards statue resembling an Oscar and a King Kong dubbed Great Ape of Myrtle Beach flanking skyscrapers.
“You are not going to be able to recognize that corner when it’s done,” said Tej Sundher, a partner in the family-run business that builds and operates the Hollywood Wax Museums.
The unique design, at the corner of U.S. 17 Bypass and 21st Avenue North, will join other eye-catching buildings in a hub of Myrtle Beach tourism, including the globe of Planet Hollywood, Hard Rock Cafe’s pyramid and a seemingly upside-down building that is home to WonderWorks.
“This seems to fit right in,” Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said. “It will be a unique addition to the landscape. We are a fun destination, having a fun attraction seems fitting.”
The wax museum, which replaces the NASCAR Cafe that closed more than six years ago, is on track to open in early summer and will feature between 80 and 100 wax figures of movie stars, athletes and other celebrities, though officials are being tight-lipped on which star figures will be displayed in the Myrtle Beach venue until the big premiere.
It takes about six months to complete one figure, Sundher said.
This Hollywood Wax Museum is owned by the same family-run company as the original one on Hollywood Boulevard that debuted in February 1965 with life-size wax figures of celebrities. In addition to the one in Hollywood, there are museums in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Branson, Mo. The family still runs the company; Sundher’s grandfather founded the original Hollywood Wax Museum.
In Myrtle Beach, the exterior that crews are putting up is a toned-down version of the design the attraction initially wanted to use. They removed several components – including a Mount Rushmore-style feature, a replica of the famous Hollywood sign and shooting stars around the main sign – to satisfy concerns of the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board, which must OK the signs, landscaping and building exteriors of new development in the city.
Though toned down, the building’s look still is expected to turn heads – one of the attraction’s goals, Sundher said.
“We want to entertain people from the very moment they see us from afar,” he said.
The work already is peaking the curiosity of passersby, with Kruea getting a number of calls from folks wondering what’s being built or when the attraction will be ready.
Officials are not releasing a specific date for the opening.
“It will give folks something to talk about as they cruise U.S. 17,” Kruea said.
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