Along Adrian Highway north of Conway is a large empty field. A long concrete strip is lined with street lights and surrounded by tall weeds.
It seems misplaced out in rural Horry County. But it once was a large industrial complex. And it could be again.
"It had a 400,000-square-foot industrial use many years ago," said Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation President Josh Kay. "Santee Cooper acquired it, demolished it. We’re partnering with Santee Cooper now to take that property and turn it into a true industrial campus. "
The Ascot Valley Industrial Park has 80 acres of property fit for development, and landowner Santee Cooper is working with the EDC to rezone the property to allow for manufacturing. Now that the industrial manufacturing and mixed-use complex known as the Atlantic Center is full, Kay said, the EDC needs areas in the county for manufacturing businesses to locate. Ascot Valley is a perfect fit.
The conceptual plan shows 13 buildings ranging from 40,000 to 50,000 square feet as well as a 200,000 square-foot building. The design also shows train tracks running along the north side of the complex.
But that's just a concept. The design could change based on how many tenants lease the land, and what they want to do with it.
"There’s a master plan that was in that packet that shows a multi-tenant industrial campus there," Kay said. "However, if the rezoning goes through and there’s one large tenant that goes out there, it could be one tenant. What the conceptual plan shows is multiple 50,000-square-foot locations just to show the maximum build-out that could happen."
Horry County Council Chair Mark Lazarus said it's an exciting project.
"We’re being told that one of the things that we're lacking in Horry County is those types of facilities, so we’re taking the steps through grants and other means to be able to produce that and to be able to go out and sell it," Lazarus said.
Kay said the EDC has received several grants for the project totaling more than $1.5 million.
A $125,000 grant from the South Carolina Department of Commerce will fund a concrete pad for a 50,000-square foot building and signage at the location.
A $325,000 grant from the North Eastern Strategic Alliance will pay to buy 10 acres of land from Santee Cooper where the building pad will go. Lazarus said the county is working with private developers to try and get funding to complete construction of that building.
And a $1.1 million grant from Santee Cooper will pay for road construction into the site as well as water and sewer.
Kay said he still needs permission from his executive committee to buy the land, but would be submitting his proposal in April or May.
Aside from the one county-backed structure, construction of the buildings will be up to the tenant or tenants who will reside there. The EDC will recruit companies for the site and could offer incentives if the companies meet the criteria and county council gives its approval.
Kay said there was no definite timeline for construction.
It's unknown which businesses or how many business could locate in the park, other than that they'll be manufacturing companies.
"It’s early in the process, there are a number of directions we could take," said Santee Cooper spokesperson Mollie Gore. "We're in the beginning stages and look forward to working with the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation."
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian