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Affordable housing near Market Common? Developers squash rumors on new apartments

cjohnson@thesunnews.com

Residents near The Market Common are concerned that developers are trying to build affordable housing on wetlands at the corner of Farrow Parkway and Meyers Avenue. At least, for the most part, they were.

The reality is that the proposed apartment complex, Lively at Market Commons, will consist of upscale multi-family apartments that sit between protected wetlands and Grand Park at Market Common.

Plans for the site were reviewed at a Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board meeting Thursday, where residents came to express their concerns about the rumors surrounding the project.

“The beauty of the site, on the whole backside it’s surrounded by jurisdictional wetlands which will not be touched,” said Mike Wooten with DDC Engineers. “There’s a five-acre parcel beside the project that will remain virgin timber.”

The wetlands sit between the land where the complex will be built and an already existing neighborhood.

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Plans for the site shows exits only onto Meyers Avenue and the road is designed for more residents than already are in the area.

“I think a lot of those concerns were based off the fact that they really didn’t have the right information about this project,” Wooten said. “There were a lot of rumors out there that this was going to be Section 8 housing, and that sort of thing. I think once the rumors are resolved then people understand what a great project this is then you’re not going to have that community uprising that we thought that we might have today.”

The apartment complex has caused a stir at other public meetings, including a neighborhood watch gathering Wednesday night at the Base Recreation Center, where more than 90 people and three city council members gathered as Planning Director Carol Coleman fielded questions on the development.

Bruce Fahey, who moved into the area two years ago from Boston, said he was convinced the developer would apply for Section 8 vouchers for low-income residents. The fear was common among attendees, who voiced concerns over how it might affect property values.

“I have nothing against Section 8 people,” Fahey said. “This is a high-end area, this is the jewel of Myrtle Beach, and what’s the end goal?”

But Coleman said that the rental rates might be unattainable for voucher recipients, who would have to cover the gap between the voucher and the cost of the apartments.

Neighborhood opposition

Councilman Randal Wallace said he was confident that the eventual project will fit in with the surrounding area as CAB reviews it. Councilman Wayne Gray said that some misinformation had percolated in the surrounding area — particularly the Balmoral subdivision, which is adjacent to the proposed apartments but separated by wetlands.

“I think the mixture [of housing types] at Market Common is a good plan,” Gray said.

Residents also were worried that the apartments would create a more transient feel in the area, though the land is not zoned to allow “transient” accommodations, or rentals of less than 90 days.

“Who’s going to rent it for three months in the summer?” city spokesman Mark Kruea asked.

“Criminals,” murmured one person in the back of the room.

Joe Ferment, who moved to the area four years ago, said he feared that an apartment complex next to Grand Park would make the public area less safe.

He also was frustrated that the development plan for the land allowed the developer to build 284 apartments in place of the same amount of houses or townhouses.

At least one person in the room Wednesday night was supportive of the density.

“What we don’t have in The Market Common is diversity, and I think a community needs diversity,” said Aaron Maynard, who has operated the Pedego electric bike store at 3080 Deville St. for two and a half years.

Maynard said that the area lacks a diversity of ages and races — and that a contingent of young professionals, who might be drawn to denser housing, like apartments, could be a good thing for the commercial center of the former Air Fore base.

“When you have more traffic through our stores, it increases the business for all of the shops that are here,” he said.

Currently, the project plans for four apartment buildings ranging from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom apartments. The board supported the concept of the apartment building on the site, but they have yet to make a final vote.

“It’s a natural progression with the growth of the city,” said Larry Bragg, chair of the Myrtle Beach Community Appearance Board. “It would never occur to me with all the care that goes into zoning on this site in the wonderful area that is The Market Common there would be an adverse reaction to the property. I see this as what a wonderful opportunity for it to actually be there. I do not see at all a devaluation of property. I just do not see it.”

Developers of the project will have to go back in front of the board with proposed changes, such as paint colors and making the outside of the apartments as “upscale” as the inside.

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ

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