Bigger signs with more animation may be coming to the city’s new Broadway Entertainment District, a new overlay zone encompassing more than 433 acres in Myrtle Beach that will have its own unique branding, signage and front stoop appeal.
The rulebook on sign regulations was amended for the district to allow primary identification signs to be 5 feet taller and fully animated signs along U.S. 17 Bypass. Previously, animation could not take up more than half of the sign.
Councilwoman Mary Jeffcoat was against that change in a special Myrtle Beach City Council meeting Tuesday. She preferred the sign’s animation be limited to 50 or 75 percent.
“We’re not talking about a neighborhood. We’re talking about an entertainment district and I just go back to what I said before. You know, this is what people look for today,” said Mayor pro tem Mike Lowder. “People who come here, they like to see that. It’s like I said about Las Vegas. I know people go there to gamble, but I hear people talk about all the time how they love to see the signs and the lights and everything. That’s just as much an attraction to folks as the other things that goes on there.”
But Jeffcoat said the flashy signs could be dangerous.
“On the sign on Highway 17 (Bypass), the identification sign, if you’re going 50-55 mph down Highway 17 you can’t read those signs and if you try to read them, you’re going to have a wreck,” she said. “The animated signs that change copy, they are dangerous. They might be pretty, but they’re dangerous. In Vegas, you’re walking the strip.”
The council passed the new sign allowances in a 6-1 vote with Jeffcoat voting against the measure.
It’s like I said about Las Vegas. I know people go there to gamble, but I hear people talk about all the time how they love to see the signs and the lights and everything. That’s just as much an attraction to folks as the other things that goes on there.
Mike Lowder, Myrtle Beach mayor pro tem
The proposed entertainment district is set to include Broadway at the Beach, Pelicans stadium, the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the city’s sports center, a proposed amphitheater and performing arts center, Legends Theater, Broadway Grand Prix and the Hollywood Wax Museum.
The sign regulation amendments were first presented to the council in March as a way to help Broadway at the Beach and surrounding attractions develop a unique entertainment district with eye-catching signs envisioned to draw crowds into the area.
The city’s prior sign regulations hampered some of the plans of new tenants looking to move into Broadway at the Beach, according to city officials. Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., which owns Broadway, is embarking on a $50 million, multi-year redevelopment of Broadway.
B&C asked the city for the new sign regulations.
Under the new regulations, all signs will be allowed to have digital animation. Only entrance identification signs for main attractions and certain freestanding signs will be limited to 75 percent animation.
Primary identification signs for main attractions along main corridors other than U.S. 17 Bypass will be limited to 30 feet in height instead of the previous 55-feet height restriction. Secondary identification signs for main attractions can go two feet taller if they are located along 21st Avenue North, 29th Avenue North and Robert Grissom Parkway under the new rules.
Buildings within 300 feet of a main corridor street will be allowed to have a wall-mounted sign that could take up to 20 percent of the wall’s surface area. Buildings more than 300 feet from a main corridor street will be allowed more flexibility with wall-mounted signs and murals.
Larger signs with full animation will be allowed inside the common areas of the main attraction.
“This is a site-specific area and I think it’s needed there in this particular district. Besides … there is still the safety valve with CAB,” Community Appearance Board Chairman Larry Bragg told the council.
Most of the signs will still require CAB approval and changes will only apply to the Broadway Entertainment District.
The more than 433-acre district encompasses main attractions along and in between U.S. 17 Bypass, Oak Street, 21st Avenue North and 29th Avenue North.
The animated signs that change copy, they are dangerous. They might be pretty, but they’re dangerous.
Mary Jeffcoat, Myrtle Beach city councilwoman
Leaders noted that creativity with signs will be key to the area’s new look.
“As far as limiting either the artist or the business or the sign company, I want them to go completely off the wall if they want to. It doesn’t mean they’re going to get approved, but I don’t want to stifle their creativity. … I want to see a lot of creativity over there at Broadway because I think it’s needed,” Bragg said.