Myrtle Beach will ask for proposals from companies that could manage its new performing arts center, even though the city has not officially picked a project design.
City council already has seen the top three design proposals for the project, which had to top out at $9.8 million. But city staff are now planning to solicit proposals from companies to manage the space.
The top-ranked idea, a design-build package prepared by an anonymous “Team B,” is a 29,920-square-foot building with a 2700-square-foot indoor performance stage, 600 indoor seats, an orchestra pit for 20 musicians, a black-box theater, rehearsal hall and an outdoor stage of 2,240 square feet.
Ron Andrews, a retired assistant city manager who now works on some capital projects for Myrtle Beach, said the request for proposals will likely be based off of Team B’s plan.
It would probably not be presented to the public for another 30 days, he said.
“There’s been other issues on [City Manager] John [Pedersen]’s plate and council’s plate, and I don’t think he wanted to muddle things up right now,” Andrews said. “I think we want to get through May, and then we can probably talk about sending it out after that.”
The proposed design allows the city to add on more amenities after the basic design, particularly to the outside concert space, in the future. Andrews said management companies will have to decide whether they want to invest their own money in those improvements, and what kind of contract they might want in return.
The basic design proposals are based off of a maximum $10 million bond approved by voters in 2013. Myrtle Beach’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Shelton said taking out that entire amount in public debt could cause the city to raise property taxes by as much as 2.6 mills, if there’s no other debt being retired that the city could replace with the bond.
But Myrtle Beach only has five years to secure that debt, and the clock is beginning to run out.
Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat said Wednesday that the city has been doing its due diligence on the project.
“I want us to get our homework done before we put a shovel in the ground,” Jeffcoat said.
She said one good thing, however, has been the success of the Carolina Country Music Festival, which has shown people will come to Myrtle Beach for larger concerts.
“The voters voted for the performing arts center, and I think it’s important that we honor that vote,” she said.