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Coastal Carolina University eyes Superblock for new center

Coastal Carolina University is in discussions with the city to acquire the building at 811 Main Street, where it hopes to move its space on 79th Avenue closer into the heart of Myrtle Beach.
Coastal Carolina University is in discussions with the city to acquire the building at 811 Main Street, where it hopes to move its space on 79th Avenue closer into the heart of Myrtle Beach. jbell@thesunnews.com

Representatives from Coastal Carolina University have expressed interest in opening a performance arts center in the Superblock area of Myrtle Beach.

The area has been subject to a number of potential projects, including a new children’s museum and library, and was a key issue in the 2017 city council and mayoral races.

Now, CCU is in discussion with the city to acquire the building at 811 Main Street where it hopes to move its space on 79th Avenue closer into the heart of Myrtle Beach.

“We’re very excited about it,” Dan Ennis, dean and vice president for academic outreach at CCU, said. “I think, in terms of seriousness, the university can’t acquire property without state and board approval so we have a lot of conversations between where we are now and actually opening the doors and taking control of this space.

“But we do want to serve this community and we think putting a Coastal Carolina University performances in the Myrtle Beach area would really be a part of our mission.”

While neither party has committed to the deal, City Manager John Pedersen said the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation plans to start looking for an architect who would give an estimate for how much the renovation could cost.

The DRC will look at the issue during its Thursday meeting at the Mary C. Canty Recreation Center.

“It would not be a final design,” Pedersen said. “We need to have that so the CCU and the city can decide whether or not to take the next step.”

Ennis said that the building would need significant renovation due to its age and the fact it would be going from a movie theater to a business. He also said that CCU hopes to designate the building as a historic structure.

“We’d love to see it open sometime in ‘19,” Ennis said. “Something that makes sense for everybody in the long-term.”

The city’s involvement in the Superblock

Nearly a year to the date, former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes announced that city intended to purchase lots along the Superblock, tear them down and build a new children’s museum and library.

The plan would have relocated the Chapin Memorial Library from its current location along 14th Avenue North as well as a branch of the Children’s Museum of South Carolina, which currently is located along Oak Street.

Despite concerns voiced by residents and business owners, many of whom opposed the plan, the city purchased the majority of the Superblock properties through the DRC. However, a handful of businesses, including Jack Thompson’s Studio, refused to sell their properties, causing the city to open discussions of eminent domain.

At this time the city has not used eminent domain to obtain any of the Superblock properties, Mark Kruea, public information officer, told The Sun News.

During the 2017 Myrtle Beach mayoral race, Brenda Bethune, now the current mayor, objected to a children’s museum and library along the Superblock. Rather, she suggested closing Main Street to vehicle traffic and creating a space for both small and large businesses as well as space for urban living.

Megan Tomasic: 843-626-0343, @MeganTomasic

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