The downtown Myrtle Beach area could look very differently in the future – with distinct areas for family versus young adult entertainment – if the city moves forward with proposals from a panel of experts.
The Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corp. hired Charleston-based Urban Land Institute to form a technical assistance panel to offer an “unbiased, fair and honest” assessment of problems facing the downtown area, as well as offer possible solutions.
The panel was to look at the area from First Avenue North to Seventh Avenue North and from the Atlantic Ocean to Kings Highway – what DRC members call the south mixed-use area – and come up with suggestions for possible redevelopment.
The suggestions included creating distinct entertainment areas from Ninth Avenue North south and including Family Kingdom that could be rolled out over the next 10 years. Those districts would have entertainment that is geared toward millenials – people who reached young adulthood in 2000 – as well as families.
City manager John Pedersen said he thought the presentation was a good launching point for looking at ways to develop the southern portion of Myrtle Beach’s downtown.
“It’s a really interesting blueprint,” he said. “It’s a good place to start. I’m anxious to see the full report.”
The panel will be available to the public at the DRC’s annual retreat, which will be held in January.
The panel recommended the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion property include a joint venture with Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. to create a mixed-use venue. That venue would include an amphitheater or other concert venue on the beach, and active public park and hospitality or residential project, which panelists said could happen in the next five years.
“It would create a stir, create a buzz, create an ongoing thing much like it was 20 or 40 years ago,” said Matt Kennell, who served as chairman for the panel. Kennell, who is president and CEO of City Center Partnership in Columbia, said it would tap into the area’s nostalgia for the Pavilion. “It would bring history forward to have events on those grounds, with the ocean as the backdrop.”
From Eighth Avenue North to Fifth Avenue North would be an entertainment district geared toward millenials as well as older adults.
“You have a diminishing baby-boom population,” Kennell said. “People like me were the bread and butter of Myrtle Beach, and are today. ... But there is the opportunity for the attraction of millenials and a diversification of the tourist market.”
The area from Fifth Avenue North down to the south edge of the Family Kingdom property would be catered to family entertainment.
“There would be an expansion of family-oriented activities while also growing [entertainment] for adults and millenials – and balancing the two,” Kennell said.
DRC Chairman Chuck Martino said the DRC board will receive the full report sometime next month so that they are able to familiarize themselves with the recommendations before their retreat in January.
“I loved the idea of the mixed-used development targeting millenials,” Martino said. “I looked around the room today and there was the money to make things happen, but not the insight from the millenials. ... I think we could test the concept as a shoulder-season type of thing.”
Panelists also suggested ideas such as extending the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade to connect to the Withers Swash Walk, increasing code enforcement and police presence, and realigning streets to a grid format in order to enhance the pedestrian experience and increase the viability of developable lots.
Kennel said the city should looking into funding the projects through a municipal improvement district (MID), the New Markets Tax Credit Program, tax increment financing and other municipal finance tools.
The seven-member panel included S.C. redevelopment professionals ranging from developers to lawyers to architects who all had visited Myrtle Beach before, but have no vested interest in the area.
“I liked the idea of having people who are familiar with the community, but are able to come with fresh eyes,” Pedersen said.
Panelists met with several stakeholders, including residents, property and business owners and elected officials on Wednesday and Thursday before presenting their initial suggestions to the public.
ULI’s TAP program has been used across the state in places such as Columbia, Beaufort and as nearby as Aynor.