Planning commission may ax possible new outdoor attraction in Myrtle Beach

A proposed outdoor attraction with an ax on Ocean Boulevard may prove to be too much for city officials.

In the wake of a citywide effort to improve the reputation of Ocean Boulevard, members of Myrtle Beach's planning commission expressed concerns over a proposed outdoor ax-throwing attraction in the area. In a hearing Tuesday, multiple members of the commission said they don't like how visible the ax-throwing would be at an outdoor facility.

Instead, they said they'd prefer an indoor facility.

"If it were an indoor facility, I could feel more comfortable with it," commission member William Pritchard said.

This response comes after the city cracked down on imagery related to violence and drugs along Ocean Boulevard in an effort to improve the area's reputation. Those moves came after a headline-grabbing spike in violence.

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"I think it’s the idea that we’ve spent months talking about the image of having weapons on display, not presenting a family friendly image," Planning Department director Carol Coleman said, "and now we’re talking about a business that’s completely built around something that could be construed as a weapon."

Pritchard agreed with that assessment.

"Personally I see this as kind of a step backwards in a fashion I don’t agree with," he said.

George Vari and Irene Kirszt, two of the project's developers, said the hearing left them disappointed.

"Compared to what's there right now, it would look really good," Vari said.

Still, they say they're "optimistic," and that if their proposal is voted down by the planning commission, they will try again with an indoor facility.

Many members of the commission indicated that an indoor facility would have better luck moving forward.

"The purpose of these workshops is to try and give direction," Pritchard said.

Vari already owns an indoor ax-throwing facility in Miami, and he helped bring the first escape room to Myrtle Beach. He added that any ax-throwing facility in Myrtle Beach would be part of an organized ax-throwing league like the World Axe Throwing League. This would require the business to meet that league's safety standards.

There's already an indoor ax-throwing attraction in Greenville.

The planning commission will vote on the proposal in two weeks. The issue will then go to the Myrtle Beach City Council.