Downtown Myrtle Beach motel is demolished as city continues downtown revitalization efforts
As a 30-ton excavator ripped its way through the brick and concrete foundation of the old Fountainbleau Inn in downtown Myrtle Beach, Eileen Huhges stood across the street with her phone , recording the destruction for posterity.
“He’s been here so long that with his fall, we just wanted to see him,” she said.
Once a mainstay for tourists, the inn’s famous art deco sign and walking distance to the beach have made it a quintessential hub for vacationers.
But in recent years it has developed a reputation for crime and scourge – just months before city leaders bought the property in December 2021, one person was injured in a shooting.
Crews from Georgetown-based JMEC Construction began the process of dismantling the hostel on Wednesday as part of a multimillion-dollar urban rehabilitation project.
Last year, the city agreed to spend $15 million to purchase 10-plot land targeting run-down locations near its arts and innovation district: two commercial properties, seven hotels and a vacant lot.
Land is paid for through tax increase financing, which allows the city to fund projects with property tax growth from a designated area.
In April, the nearby Sea Nymph suffered the same fate as Fountainbleau – a combined $174,500 demolition job.
Over the next few months, Hutton’s company will clear land that currently houses the Oasis and Sea Palms motels.
“It’s interesting to see what they’ll do with it,” Hughes said.
City leaders justified the purchases as necessary to move forward with large-scale downtown development.
Deputy city manager Brian Tucker declined to comment on Wednesday, but explained to city council in December why the properties needed to be cleaned.
“At some point we have to take positions of leadership; we have to stop waiting for people to do the next big thing for us,” he said at a Dec. 14 city council meeting where property acquisitions were approved. “It’s our effort to take the lead in redevelopment.”
This story was originally published June 1, 2022 00:00.