The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation (DRC) is the oddest of hybrids. It certainly is not government. While it is a private corporation, the DRC is owned by the city of Myrtle Beach. It is funded with parking meter monies collected in downtown Myrtle Beach. On an average year, the parking meter funding can come in at approximately $1,900,000.00 to staff and run the organization.
The corporation was founded in 1998 with a mission to help redevelop a tired and dated downtown Myrtle Beach. The board is chartered to be accountable to Myrtle Beach City Council. Myrtle Beach is a City Manager managed form of government, however. The City Manager holds the greatest power in running the city on a daily basis. The current Myrtle Beach City Manager, John Pedersen, actually sits on the DRC board and is its treasurer.
The DRC board is where the true power exists.
The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation Board Of Directors is literally a “who’s who” of Myrtle Beach business insiders. The board includes Myrtle Beach City Manager and DRC Treasurer John Pedersen, Chuck Martino – Chairman, David Stradinger, Lizzie Daniel, Leigh Meese – Vice Chairman, Craig Atkins, Efi Shahar, Taylor Damonte – Secretary, Kris Kubal, Chip Smith, and new comer Noam Pyade.
Mr. Pyade is a recent resident of greater Myrtle Beach, moving into the area over the past decade. A young man in his early thirties, Pyade arrived in Myrtle Beach virtually an unknown. In 2013, however, Mr. Pyade began quietly purchasing properties in DRC designated prime Myrtle Beach areas. One of Mr. Pyade’s first purchases was the Fountainbleu Hotel. The previous owner, Rudene Hucks, was willing to owner finance the property at a sale price of $725,000.00.
Second row hotel owners and downtown retail merchants have raised concerns about what they believe is poor treatment from Myrtle Beach city government. Some feel the city has been heavy handed in how it deals with small business owners. Several state they have been harassed ongoing.
Examples include the barricades that the city of Myrtle Beach enforced along Ocean Boulevard in the Summer of 2017. Beachwear store owners complained that these barricades blocked sidewalks keeping foot traffic from crossing city streets. Merchants stated the barricades kept tourists from shopping in their stores.
As we reported earlier this year, in 2018, City Manager Pedersen made a deal with merchants promising the city would not put the barricades back in place, if the merchants mandated their employees wear lanyards. Read that here: https://myrtlebeachsc.com/2017-eminent-domain-2018-business-profiling/
EMINENT DOMAIN – MOM & POP HOTEL HARASSMENT
2015 through 2017 were truly odd years for former Myrtle Beach businessman Shai David. David was the owner of the Oasis Motel. Neighbors stated he was meticulous and detailed to a fault. David took pride in the Oasis. While the motel was dated, David improved the property until it was the envy of the neighborhood. Something about improving that property, however, did not appear to sit well with the city of Myrtle Beach.
Encouraged by the positive work he had done on his own property, David enlisted the city for support in improving the entire area. David requested city lights be installed on certain downtown streets. David asked the city to look into why downtown Myrtle Beach had scores of homeless people meandering the streets late at night. David was curious as to why the city did not trim growth along city streets. David encouraged the city to place trash cans in the area.
NEWS FOOTAGE OF DAVID ASKING CITY TO END LAX PROPERTY MAINTENANCE
At some point, David believed he simply needed to take his issues public. He went to the local media to complain. Shortly after, the city of Myrtle Beach Fire Marshal came to visit his property. Video cameras David installed showed city employees kicking on his rail. Were the employees testing the rail for safety or deliberately damaging it? David stated the rail was in excellent condition and believed the latter. The city sent David a citation during his peak season, demanding the rail be fixed at once or the motel would be closed.
SUPER BLOCK AND EMINENT DOMAIN
David also owned properties he purchased in what is known as the Myrtle Beach Super Block. In 2017, leaked emails from city government revealed one city councilman’s concerns about the heavy handed police presence at area bars in that block. According to former Super-block business owners, city police parked in front of Super Block bars with blue lights flashing, arresting no one. Bar owners stated the blue lights frightened away potential customers. City Councilman, Wayne Gray, told fellow councilmen (in an email) he worried about the impression the police presence created as the city intended to purchase those properties. Zoning, code enforcement, and new laws explicitly intended for that district were passed by Myrtle Beach City Council. David owned and leased multiple properties in that downtown district. As the see-saw drama continued, David later choose to sell all of his properties to the city of Myrtle Beach.
A frustrated David was then approached by Mr. Pyade. Mr. Pyade was interested in helping David “out” by purchasing the Oasis Motel if owner financing could be arranged. David agreed and the Oasis was sold. David told us that the fear and the weight of heavy-handed City of Myrtle Beach government harassment were key factors in why he chose to move along.
Below is a list of city distressed properties Mr. Pyade purchased in Myrtle Beach between 2013 until this current date.
ZONING AND CODE ENFORCEMENT
On a trip downtown this week, MyrtleBeachSC news noted that the Oasis Motel is not maintained currently at the high level it once was when David owned it. Pyade, however, does not appear to suffer from the same strained relationship with the city as David did. In fact, Pyade was invited to sit on the DRC board.
Yet, other merchants continue to complain ongoing about notices mailed from the city concerning minor cracks in windows or grass growing too high behind their buildings. These notices are sent along with fines and fees.
A NEW OVERLAY DISTRICT
City Manager John Pedersen and Mayor Brenda Bethune spoke to the media this past week about a new overlay district the city intends. Myrtle Beach City Council will vote to approve a second reading this coming Tuesday which will prohibit CBD oils, tobacco, alternative nicotine, vapor products, and e-cigarettes possibly from an area to include between Sixth Avenue South to 16th Avenue North. These items are legal, however, and will be sold in all other areas of the city.
HIGH VALUE, DEPRESSED PROPERTIES
In 2020, 7th Avenue North is planned to be the gateway into the downtown. Highway 501 will be straightened running directly to the ocean along 7th Avenue North. Pyade has been purchasing much of the depressed properties along this corridor.
The footprints of cities like Charleston, S.C., New York, and Philadelphia are largely set in stone. Myrtle Beach, however, is a blank canvas. What are currently dated and depressed shops, hotels and stores could become the envy of the Southeast.
THE BIG FOOT PRINT
Myrtle Beach’s Broadway at the Beach is a model enjoyed by the government of the City of Myrtle Beach. This complex has one corporate owner with tenants who sign leases to operate on that foot print.
What if the downtown area of Myrtle Beach could operate the same way? It certainly could, if small business owners decided to sell out and move on. All the city needs is for one or two groups to consolidate majority ownership of the land before 7th avenue becomes a main gateway.
MONEY SEEMS TO BE NO PROBLEM FOR PYADE
Where has an unknown thirty something been able to find financing? While Pyade has used several tactics, Wells Fargo Bank is a favorite. The bank lent LLCs owned by Pyade only $2,179,500 from January 2016 through January 2017. However, from July 2017 to July 2018 the bank has provided $11,148,000 in financing. Another unknown resident, Idan Regenstreif, co-signed the most recent mortgage as a member of the LLC established by Pyade. We could find little on Regenstreif. We were able to find Mr. Regenstreif’s Facebook Page, however. https://www.facebook.com/idan.regenstreif
Local merchants we spoke with stated they did not know Mr. Regenstreif.
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