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August 13, 2014

DRC bringing in experts to help determine redevelopment needs

A Charleston-based group that focuses on “responsible land use” in South Carolina will study possible redevelopment options for a portion of downtown Myrtle Beach that some officials say has been blighted for years.

A Charleston-based group that focuses on “responsible land use” in South Carolina will study possible redevelopment options for a portion of downtown Myrtle Beach that some officials say has been blighted for years.

The Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corp. board voted Wednesday to hire Urban Land Institute South Carolina to form a technical assistance panel to offer an “unbiased, fair and honest” assessment of the problems facing the downtown area – and possible solutions.

The DRC will pay ULI between $7,000 and $10,000 for forming the panel. The money will come out of the $25,000 the corporation budgeted for professional expenses this fiscal year, executive director David Sebok said.

The eight- to 10-person panel will study the needs of what DRC members call the south mixed-use area, defined as the 75 acres from Second Avenue North to Seventh Avenue North and four blocks inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

“The south mixed-use area has many challenges, but there’s an ability to be creative in the redevelopment,” Sebok said.

Sebok said the DRC is welcoming the perspective of people who aren’t from the area. ULI plans for the panel to consist of as many S.C. experts as possible, but may need to work with people from other areas if he or she has a particular expertise, said ULI executive director Heather Foley.

“With a diverse group of experts coming in you might get some things that none of us have though about, or they may reinforce some things,” Sebok said.

Plus, ULI member and TAP program Chairman Todd Ward said the panelists – which will be made of ULI members who are real estate and planning professionals – will offer an unbiased opinion of what is needed to redevelop the area.

“We will tell you what we truly believe as professionals without sugar coating it,” he told board members. “Sometimes, initially, it’s a shock.”

Foley said ULI’s TAP program has been used across the state in places such as Columbia, Beaufort and as nearby as Aynor.

ULI will work with DRC staff to fine tune the problem statement and issues that are to be addressed and then identify the areas from which experts will be needed for the panel. The panelists will be given a briefing book that outlines the city’s codes, laws, issues and other information needed to develop solutions to the identified problems, Sebok said.

In November, panelists and DRC members will conduct a two-day workshop to speak with elected officials, business leaders and residents and finalize their recommendations – which will include solutions that could be implemented in as little time as 90 days as well as long-term suggestions.

“The presentation of the TAP ideas may spawn other ideas,” Sebok said. “None of these things are finite, cast-in-stone plans. They end up being a road map which you can change and adjust from time to time.”

Sebok said the suggestions from ULI could potentially tie into the DRC’s pursuit of the “next big thing,” which members define as the next thing that downtown Myrtle Beach will be known for – be it an attraction, an icon or the general feeling of the area.

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