Bids to renovate the credit card parking lot at Myrtle Beach International Airport will be accepted next week as plans for the ticketing area of the old terminal remain up in the air.
The Airport Advisory Committee heard from airport officials Wednesday that the old short- and long-term parking lots and the old access road in front of the former terminal at the airport will be renovated to accommodate more than 700 parking spaces in what is now being used as the long-term credit card only parking lot.
“Phase I will include demolition of the old toll plaza, the old signs and existing curb and gutter,” said Mike Illes, director of operations at the Horry County Department of Airports. The first phase will create 570 parking spaces, while the second phase will add 150 spaces, Illes said.
Pat Apone, interim director for the Department of Airports, said the move will help airport officials buy more time to decide what it should do with the vacant 21,500-square-foot ticket lobby of the old terminal. Some county and Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board officials have been vocal about their desire to see the ticketing area of the old terminal come down, as long as what’s left of the old terminal matches the aesthetics of the new $118 million terminal, which opened in April.
Apone said the first move with the remaining $5.5 million budget left over from the new terminal project is to get the parking lot project moving and completed.
“At that point, we’ll regroup, develop a plan that will include dealing with the facade and the renovation of existing [old] gates,” Apone said. “And then we need to have a plan of what we’re going to do with the ticketing area in the existing [old] terminal.”
The original plan was to turn the old terminal into commercial space. Some suggested office space and possibly lost baggage claim and others said it might be a nice area for Transportation Security Administration agents. But a 60-day effort to lure businesses into the old terminal last summer proved to bring in a mere two inquiries.
The airport’s advisory committee has said it would like to receive guidance through the creation of an ad-hoc committee that consists of members from the county, the city of Myrtle Beach and the appearance board.
Apone said Wednesday that when she took over as interim director in September, she was not prepared to tackle the ticket counter issue.
“We decided that we would take the priority of resolving construction issues and closing out that part of the project, and then dealing with the parking so we can take care of our passengers in the spring when we hit our busy season,” Apone said. “Then we can fully examine all of our options under this building, weighing the pros and cons, to make a decision then.”