It should come as no surprise that the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Corporation wants to shut its doors.

Despite the best of intentions, the DRC has been unable to pump much energy into the old downtown section of Myrtle Beach known as the superblock.

Millions of dollars have been poured into the DRC in hopes of recreating the vitality the superblock enjoyed prior to 1975.

The opening of Myrtle Square Mall severely impacted business in the historic downtown district. The closing of Chapin Department Store didn’t help.

Then, in 2006, the heart of Myrtle Beach was ripped out when the Burroughs and Chapin Company closed and demolished the Myrtle Beach Amusement Park.

The closing of the park was the nail in the coffin for many of the small businesses still operating in the superblock.

Since being formed in 1999, the DRC has gone through several turnovers.

Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride offered his vision for downtown Myrtle Beach.

His successor, John Rhodes, had a different idea for redeveloping downtown. Now, his successor, Brenda Bethune, has brought yet another plan to the table.

Perhaps that is one reason DRC board chairman Chuck Martino went before Myrtle Beach City Council recently to encourage the city to disband the DRC and start from scratch.

Martino asked council to use Oct. 30 as the deadline to end its relationship with the DRC, giving the city until March to decide what do with the parking meter money used to fund the DRC.

The DRC has used a loan pool to purchase several of the properties in the superblock, which is being rebranded as the Arts and Innovation District. Among the properties purchased include three buildings on Main Street with plans of partnering with Coastal Carolina University to build a performing arts theater.

The new masterplan, adopted by the city in March, will be administered by city council and managed by city staff rather than through the DRC.

It’s unfortunate the DRC couldn’t accomplish more than it has over the past two decades. There were a few bright spots. Construction of the boardwalk on the beach comes to mind.

For the most part, the DRC ran up against many of the same problems faced by other cities and towns throughout America. Big box stores and internet retailing sucked the life out of many downtowns.

That’s not to say downtown Myrtle Beach doesn’t have a future. Some downtowns have successfully reinvented themselves quite successfully.

However, I don’t see how any real progress and planning can be accomplished as long as Myrtle Beach has the gaping hole nearby that was once the Pavilion.

Redeveloping downtown goes hand-in-hand with repurposing the old Pavilion site.


Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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