Myrtle Beach Closes Downtown Block
City Manager John Pedersen used an emergency ordinance to permanently close the entire historic section of downtown Myrtle Beach in the 5 Points/Super Block area this week. The city no longer allows downtown parking in the area from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. While the ordinance only requires businesses who sell alcohol to close, the parking ban, in effect closes all businesses in that district at 2 a.m. as well. Any cars found parked in the historic Super Block district after 2 a.m., which is located 5 minutes walking distance to the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion oceanfront downtown, will be towed.
The historic Myrtle Beach Super Block was built as a downtown shopping venue in the 1940’s. The entire block is not found on any future ten year city planning maps. City Manager John Pedersen and City Mayor John Rhodes have been working with City Council to bring about an entire re-development of that oceanfront and off the ocean area for several years now. Super Block business owners we spoke with said they have felt harassed by the city for the past several years. Owners believe the city is attempting to close down the district and condemn the buildings so as to create new investment opportunities. Myrtle Beach’s Sun News did a feature just last December where business owners expressed their concerns about city harassment.
Late Friday night to early Saturday morning, Cleavon Oneal Dantzler allegedly opened fire inside of Pure Bar located at the Super Block, shooting 5 people. Super Block business owners characterized the shooting as an assassination style hit job. Before noon the same Saturday, the city of Myrtle Beach had immediately placed permanent no parking signs throughout the district. The creation and distribution of those signs in such a short window of time on a non city work day have raised suspicions by all Super Block business owners.
Super Block owners addressed City Council on Tuesday. Owners said the ban would effectively put all bar owned businesses in the Super Block immediately out of business. Owners also said the entire block ban was unfair and illegal.
Myrtle Beach is rated as the 17th most dangerous city in America by neighborhood scout. However, overall crime statistics show levels of crime higher at other Myrtle Beach locations including Broadway at the Beach, ocean boulevard downtown, and just off ocean boulevard on Chester and Flagg Streets than recorded at the Super Block.
Shai David is a local business owner who owns four properties in the Super Block. Just one year ago this week, Mr. David was attacked at one of his properties at 4 p.m. in the afternoon. We reached out to Mr. David for his comments. “There are two major concerns I have with today’s city council’s decision about the super block: The first is with regard to city council’s decision to shut all businesses at 2 am. I find it disturbing that a shooting will occur on the early hours of Saturday morning, the suspect was never apprehended, the investigation is still open, and yet three days later such monumental ordinance is already written, voted upon, and passed. I do not consider any hasty decisions made by city council based upon limited information to be responsible leadership. On December 8, 2015 myrtle beach city council instructed City Planning to study the super block area. Apparently, a year later, city leadership is still lost and cannot effectively manage one city block containing five or six small establishments.
The second point of concern I have is with city council’s irresponsible decision to prohibit anyone from parking in the super block after 2 am. This is a huge public safety issue. Like any other businesses in the city, super block business owners and their employees stay several hours after the closing of the business to perform general closing down procedures. Many of the owners leave last, many times with large sums of cash in their possession. The city provided no exceptions for those business owners and their employees. I find this to be simply recklessly negligent. Late night Super block business owners and their employees should have the same safety consideration from the city as day time business owners do and late night business owners in different parts of the city do. If most police related shootings happened at night for example, would it be fair to prohibit night shift police officers from carrying a weapon to protect themselves and the public?
Finally, every one of the businesses operating in the super block is a legitimate business holding an approved city business license, each paying an additional fee to the city to be open ‘after hours’. At a capacity of even one hundred people per establishment, the city in essence has approved a capacity of five hundred to seven hundred people in that block alone. The question I would like to ask city council is why wouldn’t you provide adequate security to a single block that provides the city so much revenue in real estate taxes, sales taxes, and business license fees? How can hundreds of people congregate in one parking lot for years during Friday and Saturday nights from 2am to 6am and the city never created a safety plan? Each business in the super block had to provide the city with a safety plan for their establishment, yet the city didn’t have a plan of its own.
I hope MB city council will start taking responsibility for their inability to safely manage and protect law abiding citizens from criminals in the super block parking lot and stop blaming everyone else. These business owners are victims like anyone else who was ever attacked and/or preyed upon in the super block area. If Burroughs and Chaplin can effectively control thousands of people in Broadway at the Beach, how come the city, with all its resources and wisdom, can’t control a single block for a few hours during the weekend?” said David
Mr. David, as well as other owners, have stated that while on the one hand city government has passed ongoing measures to restrict business opportunities in the Super Block, random real estate interests continue to call Super Block property owners attempting to purchase their properties at wholesale prices. Owners tell us they believe that potential buyers are being sent to them by way of covert city government discussions while Myrtle Beach closes downtown block operation hours.
Reports are that one local business owner in the area of Chester and Flagg streets just this past week signed a deal with the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (City Not For Profit) to sell his properties. Sources tell us that the contract was signed “buyer undisclosed” by the DRC.
Mayor John Rhodes has made over 9 trips to China during the past few years in a successful attempt to lure Chinese investors into the city of Myrtle Beach. On August 25, 2016, Chinese Secretary General Zheng Yong Sheng of the Peoples Republic Of China visited the downtown area of Myrtle Beach and locations in the county to conduct official site inspections for potential new Chinese investments.
The timing of these visits, the closing of the Super Block, and the future of Myrtle Beach have most Super Block business owners highly suspicious of Myrtle Beach city government at this time.