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Superblock, other areas along Grand Strand picked for new federal incentive program

The Superblock area of downtown Myrtle Beach could soon be home to new long-term private investments after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster chose the area to qualify under a federal program known as opportunity zones.
The Superblock area of downtown Myrtle Beach could soon be home to new long-term private investments after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster chose the area to qualify under a federal program known as opportunity zones. jbell@thesunnews.com

The Superblock area of downtown Myrtle Beach could soon be home to new long-term private investments after South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster chose the area to qualify under a federal program known as opportunity zones.

"It still has to receive the final approval from the Treasury Dept.," Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said in a message to The Sun News. "I've been in D.C. working with Brad Dean and Senator Tim Scott and the rest of our delegation. I am very grateful that Governor McMaster chose the Superblock area and for everyone who helped get it approved."

The Superblock tract runs from U.S. 501 to U.S. 17, to 21 Avenue North and connecting along the ocean.

The Racepath community was also picked by McMaster to qualify under to program, Bethune said.

The program focuses on areas across the country that qualify as distressed or severely distressed, and encourages long-term private investments through tax incentives. It was created by President Donald Trump as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

In order to qualify, zones are set based on poverty and income.

To be distressed, an area must have a poverty rate of 20 percent or greater and a median family income of 80 percent or less of the areas median family income based off of census information.

To qualify as severely distressed, an area must have a poverty rate of 30 percent or greater, a median income of 60 percent or less of the areas median family income and an unemployment rate of at least 1.5 times the national average, based off census information.

In Horry County, the median family income is $52,100, according to 2017 numbers on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

Bethune said McMaster will hold a press conference Friday morning between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Bethune plans on inviting Scott to the Myrtle Beach area to "explain it to a large group of potential investors who can benefit from the program," but an exact date has not been set.

Mid-day Thursday, Bethune teased on Facebook, stating, "As soon as we got to the airport to fly home, we received some very exciting news that is going to have a major impact on the Myrtle Beach area."

The news for the Superblock comes after a year of controversy regarding the area after former Mayor John Rhodes announced the possibility of using eminent domain to build a new children's museum and library. During that time the city had purchased several of the properties to make way for the new development, but were unable to obtain two, House Parts, LLC and the building housing Myrtle Beach photographer Jack Thompson's studio.

The last election put a stop to the plans for the area with the election of Bethune, ousting Rhodes who sat in the mayor's seat for 12 years.

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