MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach plans to build a new library and children’s museum in the Superblock.
In an announcement Tuesday at Nance Plaza, positioned between 9th Avenue North and Hwy 17 Business, city leaders confirmed that Superblock property owners voluntarily gave up their property for the project.
Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes explained the city has a line of credit to be used for the community-centered project, and that the “city is ready to make an investment in the Superblock.” He went on to thank the current property owners who are going to sell their lots to the city to make the plan a reality.
In addition to the $10 million line of credit the city will use, the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation will spend $3 million on the property where the new buildings will be built.
The City of Myrtle Beach, the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation and others hosted the news conference revealing the details about the new sight for the Chapin Memorial Library and The Children’s Museum of South Carolina.
Mayor Rhodes presented plans for the buildings themselves, landscaping, and the surroundings.
Currently, Chapin Memorial Library is located at 400 14th Avenue North, and the children’s museum is situated at 2204 North Oak Street. Both of these facilities will close, according to Mayor Rhodes, but no timeline has been set as to when that will happen or when the new buildings will be constructed.
Some businesses within the Superblock are currently in short-term leases, so city leaders have to review those contracts and find new buildings to relocate the businesses before work can begin, adds Mayor Rhodes. The plan to build a new library and museum did not have to go before Myrtle Beach City Council because the city will use a $10 million line of credit to fund the project, as opposed to using tax payer money.
The city has recently tightened its regulations on businesses within the Superblock following different spells of violence, including a shooting in November at Pure Ultra Club that injured five people. Myrtle Beach City Council passed an ordinance in October 2015, stopping any more bars or nightclubs from opening in the area, stating, “The number of drinking establishments in this area have a disproportionate negative impact on police services and business diversity.”
Just more than a year later, city council passed an emergency ordinance forcing all drinking establishments in the Superblock to close at 2 a.m.
“We have had issues with those early morning hours for a number of years now,” said Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea in a November 2016 interview. “We’ve had issues with other incidents at establishments in the Superblock. The time is now to do something about it.”
In December, the city revoked the business license of two clubs in the Superblock – Pure Ultra Night Club and Natalia’s Bar and Grill. In the official letter from the city to the owner of Pure Ultra Club, the city says the shooting from Nov. 5 was gang related, in addition, the club owners are accused of allowing “unlawful adult entertainment, illegal gambling activity, and repeated acts of unlawful sale or possession of controlled substances.”
Just around the corner in the Superblock, the city revoked the business license of Natalia’s Bar and Grill, where they say the club failed to have proper security and failed to report a shooting that happened inside the club on July 21.
Myrtle Beach City Council decided Tuesday afternoon to permanently revoke the business licenses from the two business owners. Natalie Litsey says she feels like they were pushed out because the city has its own agenda.
“The city getting what they want. The city getting what they’ve been working for sounds like a couple of years,” said Litsey.
Councilman Wayne Gray says that’s not the case.
“Absolutely not. No, two weeks ago, the city presented its case as to nuisance activities that were emanating from those businesses and that was the reason why their business license was suspended,” said Gray.
Allen Deaton says city leaders contacted him in December about buying his property in the Superblock.
“I mean I was questioning exactly what was going to happen. They’ve got a confidentiality agreement with the broker so he really couldn’t tell me anything and so I had to kind of vet the whole situation to make sure I wasn’t making a bad move,” said Deaton.
Deaton sold his property to the city bus says he didn’t know why they were buying it until Tuesday.
Gray says they’ve already had several business owners voluntarily agree to sale their property.
“Obviously, that gives you evidence that they found it challenging to find a use of that property. We recognize that as well, you know, there’s limited parking in this area, there’s limited density of people which makes it challenging for a retail operation whether it’s a store, a drinking establishment, or a restaurant to survive and thrive. We think a re-purposed public use like a library and a children’s museum will spur the kind of private development that we want to see,” said Gray.
Gray says they still have to work on some remaining lease agreements before they can move forward.