I have been involved with downtown redevelopment in the City of Myrtle Beach for twenty years. As a matter of history, the Pavilion Area Master Plan (PAMP), adopted by the City in 1998, was the guiding document that birthed redevelopment district boundaries, and subsequent actions by the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and City leaders. The PAMP identified 5 districts in need of action between 16th Avenue North and 6th Avenue South, and from Broadway and Oak streets to the Atlantic Ocean.
To date, there have been many accomplishments, mostly in the North Entertainment District. These include the Boardwalk, SkyWheel, Plyler Park and related private development. However, we all are acutely aware of the continuing difficulties that exist principally in the 75-acres bordered by 9th Avenue North, the Atlantic Ocean, Kings Highway and 3rd Avenue South, referred to in the PAMP as the Central Amusement District and the South Mixed-Use Area. In addition, the retail centers along Main Street (The Superblock), Broadway Street and their intersections with US Highway 501, known as the Entry District, have defied new growth as planned.
In comparing successful new developments throughout Myrtle Beach over the last 20 years — beginning with Broadway At The Beach and the Grissom Parkway corridor, Coastal Grande Mall and outparcels, Market Common, Grande Dunes, and continuing redevelopment of ocean-front resorts, the question that needs to be asked is: Why haven’t the Central Amusement, South Mixed Use and Entry districts of our downtown experienced the same new development and growth? There are many reasons: closure of the Pavilion, the Great Recession, changing retail demand, multiple absentee property owners, political will, insufficient public infrastructure, small lots, lack of public safety resources, and the list can go on.
One of the precepts of successful downtown redevelopment is that you start at the center with a major anchor project, and then build outward over time. We have, by necessity, started at the north end and worked toward the other, only to find ourselves blocked by the middle from reaching the south end. Why are we stuck in the middle? …