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Flip this building? Unusual amusement could come

People build the strangest things.

Nowhere, perhaps, are there more examples of this than in tourist destinations.

We see examples all around here: giant crabs, monster sharks and mini-Egyptian pyramids (at least two in Myrtle Beach).So why not an entirely upside-down building?

An Orlando businessman is thinking of building one in Myrtle Beach.

He said he has been speaking to Burroughs & Chapin Co.

Inc. about building a WonderWorks at Broadway at the Beach.

WonderWorks, already in Orlando, Fla., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is an indoor attraction that bills itself as an "amusement park for the mind."

Inside are dozens of exhibits and virtual rides - a bed of nails that lifts you off the ground; a virtual roller coaster; fighter jet and space shuttle simulators; a bubble playground and so on.

All inside something that looks like a Roman building picked up by a twister and dumped sideways on its roof.

The company's vice president, Robin Turner, said he wants to expand to a new location every year, and Broadway is at the top of his list.

B&C spokesman Pat Dowling spoke highly of the business and said Myrtle Beach would be a great location for WonderWorks, but there are no set plans yet.

The 35,000-square-foot building would be a $12 million to $15 million investment and would create between 120 and 150 jobs, Turner said.

Will such a building get past the notoriously picky - some say fastidious - Community Appearance Board, the powerful city board that blocked the airport expansion this year?

The board has final say over all buildings, except for homes off the oceanfront.

"My experience is that CAB is not afraid to be creative," Myrtle Beach city spokesman Mark Kruea said.

Larry Bragg, chairman of the board, said it depended on the artistry.

"I don't like tacky, but I like whimsical," he said. "I think those can be fun."

Broadway at the Beach, a retail and amusement park that circles a manmade lake, is a special area, Bragg said.

"I pretty well looked at that whole area as almost an amusement destination unto itself," he said. "So things that I might not be comfortable with sitting on Kings Highway by itself, I tend to be more comfortable within the confines of Broadway."

Contact LISA FLEISHER at 626-0317 or lfleisher@thesunnews.com

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