MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) - Downtown Myrtle Beach has a lot of restaurants, shops and hotels but few places to live. That could change if plans going before city council Tuesday move forward.
A new oceanfront district, made up of a mix of commercial and residential, is being proposed for the empty lot on 7th Avenue North next to the Art Burger building.
How to make downtown Myrtle Beach feel like an actual downtown has been as issue for city leaders for awhile now. "When council and they new mayor and some staff went to Greenville, that was the first thing we heard from the mayor there," Carol Coleman, City Planning Director, said. "He said, 'We knew if we wanted to make Main Street successful we had to have people living here."
If plans go forward this would be the first set of permanent housing options in Myrtle Beach. The proposed name is 'Gateway Galleria.'
"They call it that because when the 501 realignment goes through," Coleman said, "7th Avenue North is gonna be kind of a vista to go to the beach. So that's gonna be a new gateway."
The plans call for restaurants and shops on the street level and apartments on the upper floors.
Coleman said it'd be fair to think of it has a mini Market Common. "Obviously it's not the same developer, and I don't think their intent is to re-create it," she said, "But it is a successful model."
Gateway Galleria plays into the trend of having everything you need in one place. "This really fits into the live, work, play vision of downtown Myrtle Beach," Brian Schmitt, Executive Assistant of the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation, said. "And we can't do that without more residential."
Coleman agreed, acknowledging the importance of tourism and hotels and calling them the city's 'bread and butter.' But she also said the city can't forget about its locals.
"I think there are a lot of people and a lot of different age groups, different generational descriptions that would jump at the chance to live closer to the ocean," she said.
As for parking, the plans call for two parking lots. But these would be only for people who live at Gateway Galleria and not for shoppers.
City Council will talk about the district during a first reading Tuesday. Coleman said if second reading is approved construction could start in the fall.
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