Changes are coming to downtown Myrtle Beach, and they'll be done in 90 days.
A new plan presented at Myrtle Beach City Council Tuesday morning by a task force made up of Myrtle Beach business owners shows opportunities for rebranding the area and creating a destination for tourists.
"You have the Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet and you have Riverwalk in Conway," said Larry Bond, owner of four restaurants in downtown Myrtle Beach. "We have a beautiful ocean walk, that's where the boardwalk and amusement district is, and we want to brand that from 1st to 16th Avenue North as Ocean Walk."
To get there, Bond hopes to relight the palm trees, implement solar powered trash cans that provide a Wi-Fi signal and message city workers when they are full, and paint murals on buildings and sidewalks.
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On top of that, "wayfinders" will be added to the downtown area directing guests to prominent businesses and Myrtle Beach attractions.
"Wall art and murals in other cities are a huge attraction and people use them for pictures," Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said during the meeting. "And that will greatly help us on social media."
Bond, along with others on the task force, have come up with a 90-day plan as well as a one-year and two-year plan.
Lauren Clever, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, also presented a plan to utilize spaces, such as Chapin Memorial Park. She suggested creating weekly and monthly events that are aimed at music, festivals and community events.
"If it works well, then that’s what we’re all working toward," Buz Plyler, owner of the Gay Dolphin, said in the meeting. "As far as the area, we have been very blessed. We’re happy to attribute what we can to the experience to whether or not this compromise works."
What does the plan mean for the proposed barricades?
At the last council meeting, Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock presented a plan that would place barricades from 7th Avenue North to 12th Avenue North with openings for crosswalks.
Prock also suggested widening the sidewalks from 7th Avenue North to 14th Avenue North, which would cause Ocean Boulevard to drop from four lanes to three lanes in that section, in order to increase pedestrian flow.
The suggestion from Prock came after a shooting last year that was livestreamed on Facebook, attracting millions of viewers and causing city council to put up temporary barriers to control pedestrian movement along the boulevard.
Now, Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pedersen suggested postponing the barricades and the sidewalks to test out the 90-day plan.
"I think we should put the motion of the pedestrian barriers on hold for now and try to move forward under the partnership with the oceanfront merchants," Pedersen said during Tuesday's meeting. "Public safety is still absolutely the number one goal. The idea here is to work on the partnership there. This is something we're going to try really hard to make work."
However, barricades will still be used during Memorial Day weekend and events like the Carolina Country Music Festival.
Pedersen said the city has asked business owners to make some changes, such as requiring employees to wear uniforms and to have basic rules of conduct. They also have asked businesses to remove any items with drug paraphernalia or weapons from store windows.
"Everyone seems to be very excited," Bond said. "Everyone really seems to be on the same page with the exception of two members who did not like having to pull certain items from their windows."