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The Market Common’s identity crisis - urban density or suburban single-family

The Market Common
The Market Common jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Today, The Market Common is not what it was planned to be—an ‘urban village.’

Instead, the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base is filled with single-family homes where multifamily homes were meant to be. The overall density dropped more than 25 to 30 percent than what was called for in the master plan, Carol Coleman, Myrtle Beach planning director, said.

“The Market Common was supposed to be twice as dense as it is,” Coleman said. “It’s been developed at a reduced density. The intent was to create a downtown area.”

With new density growth proposed for the area, including The Lively at Market Common and a new subdivision at the intersection of Howard Avenue and Farrow Parkway, multifamily homes are once again being built in the area.

The new apartment complex will bring 224 units to three of the four buildings, and the subdivision bringing a mix of townhouses and single-family homes. A number of residents have complained about the proposed apartments, but developers said that higher density was part of the plan all along.

The decline in density is due to the Great Recession of 2007 that caused potential home buyers to look for single-family homes rather than multifamily homes, forcing developers to build more single-family housing.

Coleman said The Market Common was being built “right at the top of the market bubble. Then the bubble burst.”

Because of the housing market crash, The Market Common is now surrounded by single-family neighborhoods, including Park Place at Market Common, The Battery at Market Common and the Cottages at Farrow Parkway.

The recession did more than just lower the density in the area. It also hit the city’s revenue.

When The Market Common was originally developed, the city of Myrtle Beach took out 25-year tax revenue bonds in order to pay for roads, sidewalks and drainage.

“The city took that step to install all of that and take ownership of the streets,” Coleman said. “Market Common Proper is city streets. They took a risk that the development would follow.”

Now, the city still owes about $43.3 million, according the Mike Shelton, Myrtle Beach chief financial officer.

The incorporation of single-family homes, however, has helped the city to continue to pay the bonds without adding extra taxes.

“In the short-term you have to have something going on or else those bonds go unpaid,” Shelton said. “They balanced the need for money for development to occur quickly against the need for higher revenues.

“And one of the things that I remember a number of people saying is that the worst thing that could happen is for the area to stagnate and for no development to be occurring. That’s some of the reason for some of the lower density to be approved. It’s just looking at what the economy would give and it wasn’t giving a lot. So the developers proposed what was needed.”

As far as future developments, Coleman was unsure whether more multifamily homes would be built.

“Market Common Proper is where the new hotel is going to go,” Coleman said. “But it doesn’t take up the whole property. Conceivably there could be more [multifamily homes].”

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

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