North Myrtle Beach Council pushes for commercial development at Barefoot Resort

The North Myrtle Beach City Council told owners of the Barefoot Resort Town Center it would not grant building permits for a third phase of residential development until building begins on commercial properties.

Property owner Roger Grigg, of Leonard, Grigg & Associates LLC, agreed with the council’s position during a council workshop Monday night, saying he expects the company would begin developing the third phase of residential properties in early 2014.

The agreement came after the property owner asked for approval of an ordinance that would replace a portion of 64 acres of the planned commercial town center with single-family houses and townhomes. The property owner proposes to reduce the commercial space to about 36.24 acres with plans to develop the remaining acreage into residences.

The first phase of commercial property would include 40,000 square feet of businesses on 11 acres of land, said city spokesman Pat Dowling.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance with the stipulation that they see more tangible examples of housing and garage door designs of The Retreat at Barefoot Village by the second reading. The ordinance could go for second reading as soon as Dec. 17.

At-large City Councilman Robert Cavanaugh said the city has agreed to shrink the amount of commercial property a number of times over the years, while understanding that the market has been difficult, but no business has been built.

“I want to increase the odds of something happening,” Cavanaugh said. “[The property owners] have pushed this commercial [development] out and out.’’

Grigg said he hopes to begin construction on the first phase of commercial development by next October with businesses opening in April 2014. Businesses would most likely be in the service industry, such as coffee shops, restaurants or bars.

Mayor Marilyn Hatley agreed that service businesses would do well in the town center, joking that she’d open a business if she could.

“With that crowd? I’d put a bar in there in a minute,” she said.

The first residents moved into Barefoot Resort in March 2000. Dowling said since then residents have had to cross the swing bridge to Barefoot Landing or points beyond to do their shopping.

“If I lived there it would be nice to know that I could ride my golf cart down to Starbucks or, eventually, to a convenience store,” he said.

Barefoot Resort resident Lawton Dews said he was pleased that the council showed concern about the shrinking commercial space.

“We particularly appreciate the concern that all of you are giving, jointly, that this residential and commercial be tongue and groove. I agree with you 100 percent,” Dews said.

The original layout of the town center was approved in late 1999 and changed in March 2000. It was changed again in 2005 and 2007, according to a planning staff report. The plan allotted 388,640 square feet of building space intended for retail, restaurants, offices, banks and a service station and car wash.