There may be a deal in sight for the campground owners and Myrtle Beach, but the details have yet to be reviewed and approved by the city council.
The city owns 143 acres of land leased by PirateLand Family Camping Resort and Lakewood Camping Resort. The lease between the three parties expires on Feb. 15, 2020.
John Pedersen, city manager, said there is a five-year lease with “no extension possible” on the table for consideration.
The city council has to approve the agreement and is expected to discuss it in upcoming meetings.
The agreement contains numerous fee increases that would bring in $3.7 million annually, which is about $517,000 more than the current lease.
The fee increases are $20,000 more on the base rent of $140,000; 28.5% of gross campground proceeds, up from 25%; 18.5% from villa rentals, up from 17%; and a 2% increase of the 14% from concession sales.
Pedersen said the five-year lease provides a time cushion for the campground owners.
“There are a number of agreements that have been entered into between the campground owners and people who have actually purchased properties on them. That would give those owners a chance to negotiate any sort of settlement or resolve any potential issues with those owners,” he said adding the agreement releases the city of liability if those disputes are not resolved.
Additionally, the agreement states the campground owners would not fight possible annexation into the city.
“And, the longer term arrangement likely would involve the sell of that property,” said Mark Kruea, the city’s public information director, whether it be to the campgrounds or another investor.
Kruea said the new lease agreement continues the city’s agreement with Horry County of 75% of the proceeds going to the county for use at the Myrtle Beach International Airport.
Kruea said the agreement with the county is limited to proceeds from leased property. He said if the property is sold in the future, the county’s cut would be eliminated.
Horry County Government spokeswoman Kelly Moore said county officials have been following the city’s negotiations with the campgrounds.
“At this point, we have not been informed by the city of Myrtle Beach regarding their intentions for the future of the property,” she said in a prepared statement. “We do know that the 1953 release was premised on the obligation of the City to utilize any revenues derived from the property for the airport. The County, as the operator of the airport, has an interest in this matter and the FAA has historically been involved with matters related to these properties as well."
Lakewood and PirateLand are located south of the city limits and just south of the Myrtle Beach State Park off South Kings Highway. The two campground properties are adjacent on the east side of the highway.
The city acquired the land from the federal government after World War II as the government deeded the city 143 acres of surplus property about two miles south of the current city limits. The federal government was divesting itself of surplus land it had acquired for the Air Force Base, Kruea has said.
The Air Force Base closed in 1993 and the area has been redeveloped into The Market Common district including homes, parks, sports fields, light industry, part of the airport operations and a shopping district.
The 143 acres is divided into five parcels that include the southern end of PirateLand and the northern tip of Lakewood. The five parcels include a 12.32 area lake that straddles the line between the two campgrounds. The city’s land reaches from Kings Highway to the ocean.
The city began leasing the property dating back to the 1980s, Kruea said. He said the current lease dates to 1990 with amendments in 1999 and 2009.
The leases generate about $3 million annually with 75 percent of that going to Horry County based on a 2004 agreement to share the income from leases, Kruea said. The city retains ownership of the property.
Kruea said the 1948 quitclaim deed restricts the use of the property or its proceeds to “...public airport purposes for the use and benefit of the public.”
In 1953 the federal government released the city from the 1948 restrictions but “required that a right-of-flight in and through the airspace over the property be maintained and that the land not be used in any manner that would create a hazard to aircraft at the Myrtle Beach Municipal Airport,” Kruea said.
He said in 1982 the government filed a “disclaimer of ‘all interest’ in the property.”
Carl Perry founded Lakewood in 1961. The campground is operated by the second and third generation of the Perry family. It is located at 5901 South Kings Highway.
PirateLand is located just north at 5401 South Kings Highway.
It was founded in the 1960s. It currently operates on 180 acres, according to the campground’s website.
Charles D. Perry contributed to this story.