The hub of Surfside Beach could soon become a destination area featuring the pier, which is set to be rebuilt, and restaurants offering entertainment and events — the goal of the recently passed entertainment district.
The district, which was passed Tuesday night in a 6-1 vote, encompasses 1st Avenue South, starting at Dogwood Drive South, down to the ocean and Surfside Drive, starting at Dogwood Drive South.
The area includes River City Cafe, Surfside Beach Oceanfront, Scotty’s Beach Bar, Old Colony Realty, Neal and Pam’s Pub, Bubba’s Fish Shack, Seaside Rentals, one house and several parking lots.
While the rebuilding of the Surfside Pier has not yet started, council members are hoping the district will help to add to the draw of the area for tourists and locals.
“There’s going to be entertainment,” councilman David Pellegrino said. “It’s a nice place to come.”
Pellegrino said he hopes the district will provide incentive to investors to come in and build more restaurants that will provide entertainment. He cited the area as having only three restaurants, one bar and an ice cream shop.
What does an overlay district mean?
According to documents presented at council, the overlay district will prohibit residential construction and promote commercial businesses.
“Restaurants and cafes attract more people when clustered in a definable area rather than on their own,” documents read.
The planning commission recommended buildings cannot exceed 55 feet and must have a 20-foot front and rear-yard setback, meaning the space between the curb and the building. But council changed that for buildings on Ocean Boulevard, with no setback required.
“The purpose of the setbacks is not only for green space to attract, have a nice environment, it also was to help with stormwater,” Sabrina Morris, director of Planning and Zoning, said at the council meeting.
In the documents, rules for parking and outdoor entertainment are included.
Off-street parking is required for each lot, with specific rules on the number of lots based on the number of employees, chairs and other factors.
All outdoor entertainment must be moved inside at 12 a.m. From 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., there is a limit to how much noise can come from a business.
While council members moved forward with the entertainment district, the focal point of the area, the pier, was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
In March, the South Carolina Federal Emergency Management Agency granted the town almost $9.9 million to rebuild the pier. Later that month council picked a design out of three options.
Now, the pier, which will be rebuilt as a concrete pier, will have a third building, with a deck off of two of the structures. However, the buildings will be constructed so that another story could be added in the future. The third option councilors considered called for two-story buildings on the pier.
In early October, officials approved staff to work with designers to finish the plans.
Renderings show the three buildings raised on stilts with a pointed roof. Facing inland, the two buildings will reside on the right hand side of the pier with a little deck in front of the building on the left.
In March, Public Works Director John Adair said the “worst case scenario” was the pier would be complete June 2021.
“We have the opportunity to build up Hwy 17,” Pellegrino said. “Hopefully it will bring people down Surfside Drive and into the business district.”