January 27, 2013

Myrtle Beach to install 82 credit card-capable parking meters

Drivers parking in parts of downtown Myrtle Beach this year won’t have to fumble for coins to feed the meters.

Drivers parking in parts of downtown Myrtle Beach this year won’t have to fumble for coins to feed the meters.

About 82 credit card-capable parking meters will be installed along Eighth and Ninth avenues North. The purchase of the meters will cost the Downtown Redevelopment Corp. about $60,000, said Kerry Loomis, general manager of eastern Carolinas for Lanier Parking Solutions.

The city tested 52 credit card-capable meters in 2012 and Loomis said the meters did well.

“Pulling out credit cards seems to be an easier option,” she told the DRC board of directors during its annual planning retreat Jan. 9.

Myrtle Beach City Manager and DRC Treasurer Tom Leath noted that some parts of downtown had moved from individual meters to pay stations.

DRC Executive Director David Sebok told the board that changing technology shapes the way people prefer to pay for parking.

“Individual meters are still more customer friendly,” Sebok said. “[Pay stations] are still valuable in some areas.”

B&C reclaims parking garage

Pay stations are used in the Pavilion Parking Garage, at the corner of Kings Highway and Ninth Avenue North. The DRC had been leasing the garage from owner Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., but B&C reclaimed operation of the garage Jan. 1.

Rates are not expected to change and vehicles with city resident decals will continue to be able to park for free in the garage. After the Pavilion Amusement Park closed, DRC leased the building from B&C on a yearly basis and the company chose to end the agreement.

“It was an unutilized parking garage that sits on such an important corner,” Sebok said. “We agreed on a lease whereby we, through Lanier, would manage the property and share any net profits. … They had a right to take it back any time, with notice, between seasons.”

The Pavilion Parking Garage generated more than $507,000 from January through November 2012, Loomis told the board. Once expenses were paid, DRC and B&C split the profit, Sebok said. That is money the DRC will not receive this year.

At a November meeting of stakeholders discussing the Myrtle Beach boardwalk’s development and future, Steve Warner, B&C’s senior vice president of capital strategies and investments, said the company is looking at taking 2.2 acres closest to the ocean and developing some type of attraction.

“We’ll probably build something on the entertainment side,” Warner said in November.

Warner said nothing would happen for at least a few years and offered no details other than the company is looking at putting something there. The land has been vacant since the Pavilion came down after the 2006 tourist season.

Sebok said resuming control of the garage puts B&C in a good position once it develops the former Pavilion site.

Parking costs will resume March 1 for meters and pay stations.

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