Change could be coming to Myrtle Beach as city official’s aim to redevelop the downtown into a more vibrant and thriving destination.
With portions of downtown Myrtle Beach losing its appeal over the years, city leaders have been eager to redevelop and revitalize specific areas as part of the Downtown Master Plan. The Master Plan, which was approved in March, aims to bring change to four districts: Oceanfront, Kings Highway, Historic Main Street and an Arts District.
Per the plan, City Council will vote on the first reading of an ordinance on Tuesday to create a new zoning designation — The Arts and Innovation District — located around and inside the Superblock area.
The area includes approximately 56 acres with 155 parcels along Main Street, Broadway Street, Oak Street and 9th Avenue North. Properties within the proposed district are currently zoned downtown commercial and mixed-use medium density.
Officials have previously said their goal is to create a year-round walkable, mixed-use urban destination that will serve as the hub of artistic, cultural and civic life for both residents and visitors to enjoy.
What will the district include?
Basically, any business ranging from apartments, eateries, specialty retail, gyms, theaters, religious establishments, schools to local government offices are allowed to open and operate between the hours of 6 a.m. to midnight within the district with few businesses restricted.
Drive-thru windows, nightclubs, sexually oriented businesses and CBD, vape and liquor stores are prohibited from opening. While banquet halls and event spaces are permitted, those that charge a general admission or a cover charge at the door will be excluded.
Previous plans banned chain establishments and restricted like-businesses from opening near one another, but the Planning Commission agreed to have those nixed from any future zoning plans.
Any businesses currently operating within the proposed district will be grandfathered in, planning officials said at their Aug. 20 meeting.
As proposed, the Arts and Innovation District will also include new city offices, a new library, a new museum, a performing arts center, a co-work space for entrepreneurs and a new city square for events and activities, according to city documents.
City-owned buildings along 9th Avenue North will be the first to improve, with plans already underway to renovate the buildings into move-in ready structures for new business opportunity, according to city officials.
Since city officials adopted the Master Plan, an estimated $140 million has been invested through private investors into the city, with more to come from potential new development on the horizon, according to Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation executive director Lauren Clever.
“People are investing and private money is coming in,” Clever said. “It’s showing us there’s value in what the city is doing. We want to add value to the area. The intention and goal is to drive the value of the area up so people want to bring their business here.”
Clever added that the city has either applied or will apply for several grants to fund different aspects of implementing the Downtown Master Plan.
With forums scheduled in the coming weeks with different stakeholders and developers, city officials are hoping to entice developers through the tax incentives offered with the Arts and Innovation District located within an Opportunity Zone, which also includes portions of the designated Historic District.
The opportunity zone includes 21st Avenue South to U.S. 501 from Ocean Boulevard west to U.S. 17 Bypass, while the Historic District includes portions of Main Street, Oak Street, Broadway Street, North Kings Highway and 8th and 9th Avenue North.
An opportunity zone focuses on areas that qualify as distressed or severely distressed, and allows for investments in those areas to benefit from significantly reduced or delayed capital gains taxes.
Additionally, if the city is awarded historic designation from the National Register for Historic Places, structures developed from 1927 to 1969 that have historical integrity could receive 25 percent state historic tax credits, 20 percent federal historic tax credits, and a 10-year city tax credit abatement through the Bailey Bill.
Officials believe providing these renovations and tax incentives will entice entrepreneurs and artists to work in downtown and create an inviting cultural atmosphere that could attract new businesses and residential projects.
According to Tuesday’s re-zoning ordinance, creation of the Arts and Innovation District would result in increased property, accommodations and admissions taxes.