’Hot place to shop’: Plans to breathe new life into Myrtle Beach Mall move forward

The Myrtle Beach Mall in 2014.
The Myrtle Beach Mall in 2014. cslate@thesunnews.com

With momentum to build I-73 growing, a renewed shopping center at the mouth of S.C. 22 could wind up being the first thing many see of the Myrtle Beach area. And DDC Engineers’ Mike Wooten said the project he presented to Horry County Planning Commission would be a fine welcome to the town.

“This will truly be the gateway to Myrtle Beach,” Wooten said.

The project could decide the future of the Myrtle Beach Mall, converting it to a place to both shop and sleep, pending approval from planning officials. On Thursday, the Horry County Planning Commission voted to give the project a favorable recommendation to County Council.

While the plans were originally presented to the commission in December, the project was deferred while DDC Engineers made some updates regarding signage, noise and lighting issues. While the plans changed slightly, the overall goal of giving the site a new life remained.

As it stands, Wooten said the mall’s foot traffic has slowed down and this plan is to increase the long-term economic success of the property. He said most studies he has seen said shopping malls are not as viable as they once were, and this would return the site to its previous glory.

“It was the hot place to shop,” Wooten said. “But over the last 20 years, the revenue string for that mall has dropped dramatically.”

News that the mall would be redeveloped is not new. In November, The Sun News reported the shopping center would be re-purposed for outdoor shopping, but no specifics were given at the time.

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The property is mostly the current Myrtle Beach Mall location, but it does include some surrounding property. The redevelopment would not greatly impact travelers along U.S. 17 or the neighborhood adjacent to the mall, except for a few signage changes. A buffer is required between the mall and the surrounding properties.

“This is fun, this is an exciting project,” Wooten said.

Most of the project would still be commercial, per the development plan submitted to staff. Currently, the property is zoned to Highway Commercial, which is a retired zoning code. The property owners are asking to be changed to a Planned Development District, which allows for a mix of residential and commercial.

If the zoning is changed, basically any store would be allowed to move in pending approval from the property owners. Some types of businesses allowed under PDD are restaurants, salons, a variety of stores, senior center or alcohol store. If approved, the property owners would have a long list of potential business that could move in.

Wooten said restaurants and a boutique hotel are planned to come into the property. In addition to homes and shops, the development plans include nearly seven acres of open space to increase the recreational opportunities.

And for all the hunters and fishers who use the Bass Pro Shop for supplies, Wooten said the store would be expanded. The movie theater, Belk department store and the outdoor’s store will remain.

“Bringing a truly new dimension to the waterway,” Wooten said of what his group has planned for the property.

The Bass Pro Shop will be greatly expanded too, Wooten said.

When the mall was originally built, Wooten said there wasn’t much to the waterway. Now it is an attractive place to build on given the increased recreational uses there.

“The current project takes no advantage of the waterway,” Interim Planning Director David Schwerd said.