Myrtle Beach city officials are considering a new overlay district that could bring bed and breakfasts to the beach.
Susan Lynch, who is heading the movement, hopes to put a bed and breakfast in her Pine Lakes home. The problem is the residential zoning of her neighborhood, she said.
During a Myrtle Beach Planning Commission meeting Tuesday, Lynch presented the idea to commissioners, which would change the zoning to allow the short-term rentals.
Lynch moved into her four bedroom home seven years ago. The house, which was built in the 1920s, was formerly known as the Pine Whispers boarding house. According to Lynch, stars like Bette Davis stayed at the boarding house.
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Now, as she and her husband near their retirement, they want to maintain the home and open it up to visitors.
“Our goal is to be able to open it up to people to be able to come in as a bed and breakfast and just share the experience of our home, and the experience of old Myrtle Beach,” Lynch said.
According to Lynch, Calhoun Street houses several large, old homes that are deteriorating as they sit empty.
“Sadly, what will happen, is somebody will come in and tear them down and build a new house, or two new houses or three new houses,” Lynch said.
“What I’m hoping is people will catch fire with this and come in and buy them and turn them into beautiful bed and breakfasts that don’t invade the neighborhood, that are strictly controlled and I’m just hoping for the best with it.”
Lynch said her house was built by one of the brothers who owned the Ocean Forest Hotel, formerly built on Porcher Drive in Myrtle Beach. To memorialize the old hotel, Lynch wants to name her bed and breakfast Ocean Forest Inn.
The house has four bedrooms upstairs, a swimming pool and a golf cart. At first, Lynch said only three bedrooms would be rented out, allowing, at most, three separate couples.
To turn it into a bed and breakfast, the upstairs can be blocked from the rest of the house, meaning when Lynch’s family is not home, guests would not have access to downstairs areas such as the kitchen and living room.
“We’ll be doing breakfast, and we’ll probably do a high tea, because I like stuff like that,” Lynch said. “They’ll have access to the house when we’re there. If we’re there, they’ll be welcome to come in and join with us.”
Lynch said each guest would go through a background test, “so that it’s not bringing in an undesirable clientele to a neighborhood.”
For Lynch, bringing bed and breakfasts to Myrtle Beach means bringing back the feel of an old beach town.
“There’s a lot of beautiful old Myrtle Beach and I’m afraid that’s getting lost with all the new and this would be something that would give people an experience in the old world of Myrtle Beach and the fun, old, lazy life and I just think it would be really neat,” Lynch said.
Could Myrtle Beach see bed and breakfasts?
While the district is far from being approved, the idea has spurred a conversation between members of the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission on how an overlay district would work in city limits.
Lynch said five people in her neighborhood are interested in being part of the district, but commissioners discussed the idea of having bed and breakfasts in historical parts of the city, copying cities like Charleston and Asheville, North Carolina
“A section of bed and breakfasts sounds appealing to me, versus one house,” said Sally Howard, a member of planning commission.
If bed and breakfasts are not placed together in one area, they could be put in residential neighborhoods, like Lynch’s.
“I think what you have here is the negatives of transient accommodations,” Howard said. “I don’t have the answer as how to make this work. I can see it being a good thing, but I can also see it be a bad thing.”
Planning commission will look at the overlay district again. Once it’s moved forward, plans will be sent to city council for final approval.
“I’d like to see it take more form before we encourage that sort of thing,” said Bill Pritchard, commission chairman. “Right now, it’s too early for me to recommend it.”