Friday, March 10, 2006

The Pavilion To Close!

This has been talked about for years including moving it out on 17 bypass. But it looks like B&C has finally made a decision. We still visit the park about once a year but usually we go to Myrtle Waves (season pass holders). I've been hearing rumors for about a year now that Hard Rock Cafe is planning a theme park in the old Waccamaw Pottery area and that's why no new stores have opened up in there that they are waiting for all the leases to die for the current stores. Guess we'll have to wait and see about that one.


The article can be read in the extended section.

City leaders, businesses owners and residents are anxious about what the closure of Myrtle Beach's most popular landmark will mean for the future of downtown.

The Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park will close in September, the facility's owner Burroughs & Chapin said Thursday, meaning the season set to begin in a week will be its last.

"The Pavilion has been one of the central landmarks of Myrtle Beach tourism for more than 50 years," said company president Doug Wendel. "But increasingly, the Pavilion has come to symbolize the past of Myrtle Beach, what Myrtle Beach used to be."

The park's 49 rides, teen nightclub and arcade have been a key stop for summer tourists to the Grand Strand since it opened in 1948.

But shareholders have pressured the company to make a change, because the park has not been profitable in recent years, Wendel said. About 850,000 people visited the park last year.

Redevelopment of the site likely will include a mix of shops, homes and tourist attractions, company officials have said, though they could not say whether the redevelopment will be complete by summer 2007.

"We all share the same heart break," said Jack Thompson, a Myrtle Beach photographer who worked at the park in 1951. "You cannot stop progress, but it is a sad commentary to see the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park bow to the wrecking ball after what it has meant to the development of Myrtle Beach."

Some city leaders were miffed they only learned about the company's plans Thursday morning, along with the company's 38 full-time employees. Wendel said the company's board voted two weeks ago to close the park.

"It's sad. Everybody's used to seeing things change, but this is such a drastic change," said City Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means.

Still, City Planning Director Jack Walker said closing the Pavilion is best for downtown.

"Over the years it has created somewhat of a negative feeling in the winter because of the lack of activity, and it discourages businesses from locating next to it," he said. "We're looking forward to the future of the site being 12 months of the year, but it needs to be a market that can support it."

The site's future had been in flux for several years.

Burroughs & Chapin had said in 1997 that it planned to move the Pavilion to one of its newer developments, Broadway at the Beach. At that time, the Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Group pleaded with the company to leave the park in place. But four years later, the redevelopment group was asking the company to move the park.

In January 2005, California developer Barry Landreth quit working on a plan to redevelop the park into a year-round attraction after questions were raised about his firm's financial stability.

Some surrounding businesses were happy to have questions about the future of the park finally put to rest.

"I've been ready to move forward for six or seven years now," said Chris Walker, owner of several small businesses near the Pavilion. "They have done nothing to step up and make it profitable. To not have it at all is not that big of a leap. They might as well close it."

The news was difficult for some regulars of the park to take. Harriet Hurt of Columbia said she met her husband on the Pavilion's dance floor.

"It won't look like Myrtle Beach," she said. "It just won't have any local character, flavor. I guess I'll still have the memories and old photos."

posted by David at 7:14 PM :: Permalink ::

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