By the end of July, those strolling along the 1.2-mile Myrtle Beach boardwalk should be able to continue north past the 14th Avenue Pier and wind up at the 15th Avenue North Park.
Construction began last week on the 425-foot extension of the boardwalk and is expected to take about three months, said Chase Godfrey, manager of Banditos Restaurant & Cantina.
The extension is part of an agreement between the city and the restaurant to connect Banditos with the boardwalk. Banditos sits between 14th and 15th avenues North on Ocean Boulevard.
“We’d love to have it done by Cinco [de Mayo], but that’s not going to happen,” he said.
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Last summer, Banditos owner Chip Smith said he’d hoped the construction would take place in the winter with the boardwalk being complete by March 1.
However, part of the deal he made with the city was that Banditos would continue the boardwalk to the city’s specifications and meeting those guidelines set construction back at least five weeks.
“We had to fulfill the obligation to have the exact same treatment of the posts,” Smith told Myrtle Beach City Council during a March 12 workshop. “We had to get them out of Florida. It wasn’t an easy process. We couldn’t just go to a local lumber yard.”
The $6 million boardwalk opened in 2010, stretching from First Avenue North to 14th Avenue North. Banditos wanted to extend the boardwalk so it reached its restaurant.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes has said he’d like the boardwalk to get up to 4.6 miles long, making it the longest in the world. To reach the 4.6 miles that Rhodes is seeking, the boardwalk would extend two miles south to Springmaid Pier and another mile north, Mike Wooten of DDC Engineers and designer of the boardwalk told The Sun News in November.
The city would need to find a company or companies that would pick up the tab for the project, in exchange for putting their name on it. The project is estimated to cost about $20 million. There’s been some interest from a “big company” but no commitment yet, Rhodes said, declining to name the company.
“We’re still working and trying to find a sponsor for the extension because that’s the only way we can afford to do what we’d like to see done,” he said. “We’ve got their attention, now we’ve got to get their commitment.”
Godfrey said once constructed, the one-block extension will include two entry points to the lower patio of Banditos, which opened last August, and a third entry point to the park at 15th Avenue North.
Banditos is paying for the construction of the extension, but it will be owned and maintained by the city. Godfrey said he expects the extension to be finished by the end of July.