Myrtle Beach could be getting a new performing arts center and surf park after officials on Tuesday discussed leasing an approximately 17-acre parcel located behind the Myrtle Beach Sports Center for redevelopment.
American Surf Parks, LLC is proposing to develop a surf and recreation park and an amphitheater site on city-owned property located behind the Sports Center, east of Grissom Parkway, and south of Burroughs and Chapin Boulevard.
City officials approved a motion that would enter them into a Letter of Intent with American Surf Parks during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Jeff Skelley, co-founder of American Surf Parks, said the five-acre surf lagoon will generate about 1,000 waves per hour across four different skill-leveled surfing zones. Two zones will generate waves up to 6-feet for more experienced surfers, while the others, with smaller waves, will be available for surf lessons, recreation and boogie boards.
“This is a new type of surf park with technology that’s been around for a few years, called WaveGarden, and it allows for four sites in the park for surfing,” said Skelley, adding how the park would have the ability to adjust the waves to any height up to 6-feet and would be ideal for hosting surfing competitions. “People go all over the world to find waves that we can generate here.”
Along with surfing, the park will also have a zip-lining course, water slides, rock climbing walls for experienced climbers and amateurs, pools, restaurants, bars, shops, a full-service surf store, and a hotel. The hotel will have 100 rooms and a kids park, with day passes available to those who visit the park and stay at the hotel.
“We created more of a thrill park,” Skelley said. “It’s not more of a full-encompassed park, but the surfing is a separate charge, but you can buy a day pass and other things free with your day pass.”
Skelley noted the surf park alone would generate nearly $450,000 in annual tax revenue for Myrtle Beach.
Plans also include a 250-space parking lot with free parking for those visiting the park. Paid parking would be available to the general public. On the remaining acreage, the company plans to develop a roughly 10,000-seat amphitheater, with approximately 2,000 fixed seats and 8,000 more in the seating bowl.
The proposed 15-year lease would have the option for renewal for seven additional five-year terms as long as the proposed use is maintained. If over time the park fails, Skelley assured officials the land would be restored back to its original form, stating it would be suitable for future construction.
Skelley added the proposed lease will begin at $180,000 per year, with a 10 percent hike every five years.
With the location currently containing roughly 295,000 cubic yards of stockpiled spoiled dirt from a previous development, Skelley said it would cost an estimated $2 million to have it removed. While the company would be responsible for the initial site work expenses, they will be reimbursed each year at an amount equal to the annual lease payments for 10 years, he said.
Skelley said the removal process would prevent the city from having to pay out of pocket for disposal, noting how they will generate additional income through the amphitheater.
Officials, who unanimously approved Tuesday’s motion, shared their excitement for the project, stating how it will benefit the city and its surfing and tourism market.
“From Day 1 I was pretty excited about it. We have a beautiful beach, but it doesn’t produce waves,” Councilman Mike Lowder said. “I think it’s a great project, and I’m really looking forward to seeing this out on that big spot.”