A prime piece of land on Myrtle Beach’s oceanfront probably won’t be developed any time soon as Founders Group International, the company that owns 22 Grand Strand golf courses in addition to the tract, defends itself against a lawsuit by its former president.
FGI bought 29.1 acres at the bottom of Grande Dunes Boulevard in early 2016 for $25.6 million from LStar Communities, a developer that controls an expansive development plan on Myrtle Beach’s north side. FGI also owns the Grande Dunes Resort Course.
Representatives of the company previously said they planned to build a high-rise hotel or condo project on the oceanfront land.
Former president Nick Dou told The Sun News on Friday he signed an agreement several months ago with Margaritaville’s parent company for approximately $30 million for the property.
But the sale was never recorded, and Dou believes Margaritaville backed out of the deal.
“We see Myrtle Beach as a great market from a tourism standpoint and it is on our radar as a good place to continue expanding our hospitality portfolio,” Tamara Baldanca-Dekker, of Margaritaville, wrote in an email. “We are looking at several opportunities there, but do not have anything specific to share at this time.”
Margaritaville already has a restaurant at Broadway at the Beach, but it also has recently expanded into senior living communities branded as “Latitude Margaritaville,” with one outpost in Daytona Beach, Florida, and one in Hilton Head slated to open in 2018.
‘A prime piece’
After Dou filed a lawsuit last month alleging managing partner Dan Liu misappropriated company funds, FGI’s parcel will likely sit untouched for a while longer.
The land, like nearly all of FGI’s holdings, also is embroiled in a complex system of debt put in place by Liu. A mortgage on the 29 acres was created between two FGI subsidiary LLCs for $26.5 million in February, and Liu now holds the note on that debt.
Steve Mays, the acting president of FGI, declined to comment through a spokesperson.
“It’s a prime piece,” commercial real estate broker Brown Bethune said of the land. “It’s probably the last of the really nice oceanfront undeveloped [land] in Myrtle Beach.”
Bethune, who also is a member of the Community Appearance Board, said the parcel isn’t without issues. There are some wetlands that pose a problem, and officials from LStar and FGI said last year that at least 7 acres were unusable as a result.
And residents in the area around the parcels might not be happy if the land is developed.
“I think probably some of the community — Dunes Club and Grande Dunes — will have some resistance to putting more pressure up there as far as seasonal traffic and things like that,” Bethune said. “But it’s zoned for something like that.”
FGI’s land is part of a larger planned unit development that LStar bought from Burroughs & Chapin Co. in December 2013. FGI bought its oceanfront piece of the larger PUD in early 2016, and anything it builds there is subject to a architectural review board at LStar.
Hampton Pitts, the chief operating officer of LStar, is confident the controls the company has in place will ensure whatever comes to the land fits with the rest of the development — like the adjacent Grande Dunes Ocean Club, a centerpiece venue and clubhouse.
Whatever might be built on the site in the future could include more than 1,000 hotel rooms and is zoned for mixed-use commercial purposes.
“We don’t rely on it for the success or function of our resort community,” Pitts said. “We’re passive participants, sitting back and watching like everyone else.”
Al Blondin contributed to this report.