Myrtle Beach denies use of eminent domain to acquire Superblock properties

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach says even though the city has been approved to use eminent domain to obtain certain property, the process has not been used.

In Tuesday's city council meeting, members clarified that in February council voted on and approved the use of eminent domain, which is the government's ability to take private property for public use, but city officials have not used the process for any land or building purchase.

The eminent domain conversation began after business owners in the downtown area of Myrtle Beach known as the Superblock refused to sell their properties to the city. In January, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes announced a new library and children's museum would be built in the Superblock area.

During the announcement nearly one year ago, city leaders confirmed that Superblock property owners voluntarily gave up their property for the project. However, in a post to the city's Facebook page Thursday, city officials say they are still pursuing the "voluntary sale" of two Superblock properties. The city claims it is offering approximately 35 percent more than the assessed value to the property owners.

Despite delay in gaining the properties and questions as to how the construction would be funded, the library and children's museum project appeared to be moving forward as recently as August when City Manager John Pedersen expressed leaders hoped to begin demolition in the beginning of 2018.

However, during his run for a fourth term as mayor, Rhodes seemed to backtrack with the library and children's museum project in a Facebook Live interview with The Sun News. Mayor Rhodes appeared to be questioning the once certain project, saying, "Right now, we really don't know. It's just been an option put out there for a library and a children's museum."

In April, Pedersen said there's never been any discussion of any other project.

"I've seen other people express opinions that we're trying to do something else, but it's not. You know, I don't know anything more to say than that. There's never been any other discussion of any other project there. This is no bait and switch sort of a project or any of that. The ultimate goal is to build a library facing Nance Plaza, and a children's museum facing 9th Avenue," Pedersen said.

The city is now asking for the public's input on what community members would like to see happen to the Superblock area. In Wednesday's Downtown Redevelopment Meeting, Myrtle Beach leaders, DRC representatives, and city leaders broke up into groups and jotted down their ideas for the entire downtown area of Myrtle Beach.

Nearly one year after announcing the library and children's museum, the city returns to the drawing board, and the future of the Superblock remains unclear.

"I don't know the answer to that question. I mean, I know what has been proposed, but to be honest, I don't know what the solution or what the answer is going to be. That will be something that the city will have to determine as a whole. I do believe that it will be something. I don't know exactly what, but I believe it has to be something," said Lauren Clever, who will take over as the new executive director for the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation Jan. 1.

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