A pile of twisted metal and splintered wood is all that's left of Natalia’s Bar and Grill in downtown Myrtle Beach.
As the building was being demolished and I-beams sliced this week, men in hard hats and yellow vests were installing ductwork next door at the Mashburn Construction office in the 800 block of North Kings Highway.
Around the corner, Lauren Clever of the city's downtown development office fielded calls as the governor stepped to the microphone to announce the state beaches and accesses were off limits due to COVID-19.
"The city is really focused on getting through this pandemic and how do we get out of it," she said on Tuesday. "Thankfully the economy was strong so hopefully there was a cushion, the businesses, to get through this."
Regardless of the shutdowns and postponements, Clever said the city is "pushing forward" with plans for the Arts and Innovation District.
The district, formerly known as the Superblock, sits across from the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion off Main, Oak and Broadway streets in and around 8th and 9th avenues north. It has been the center of the downtown master plan adopted by the city council last year with talk of using it as a spark to inspire other neighborhoods toward renovations and renewals.
The spot that used to be the bar is located between the recently purchased Mashburn office and next to the former Beach Bingo. Around the corner is the city's co-working space eMyrge that's under construction. Around the other corner is the theater the city's has partnered with Coastal Carolina University to renovate.
Clever said the gap between buildings where the bar once stood is planned to be a pedestrian walkway. She said the building was a "non-contributing" structure in the arts district that would not have qualified for historic tax credits.
Plans are being conceptualized for the old bar space to resemble a small, open courtyard with seating areas. She stressed it will not be welcoming to homeless people since it will be open and the parking block tucked behind the Superblock buildings will be revamped and repurposed as projects move forward.
"It's early in the process," she said. "There's a lot of work to be done, approved by the city and it will be in phases, phased efforts."
For instance, once work begins on straightening the U.S. 501 entrance into the city next year, she said, the district's landscape will change to be more pedestrian friendly.
And, admittedly in a state of uncertainty because of the virus related closures, Clever said city staff is moving forward on the other projects in the district.
Grand Strand Brewery hasn't closed on the Beach Bingo building, which dates back to the 1940s, but she expects the closure to be soon on the $453,000 property. Brewery spokesmen said they had plans of leasing the second story to Maker Exchange so arts and community events could be held there. The building is eligible for state and federal historic tax credits as well as abandoned building tax credits.
Because it's early in the process and businesses are basically on hold, Clever is reluctant to give a time estimate. Rather, she said, the city is consistently moving forward on all the district's properties and will be sharing the information with the public at future city council meetings.