MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — The next step in Myrtle Beach’s downtown beautification efforts has arrived.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce announced plans Thursday to paint downtown’s lone public parking garage, sidewalks and crosswalks in bright colors for its new tourism advertising campaign, “We are the beach.”
The chamber and Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune hope painting the town will draw more people to the region and downtown, specifically. Right now, the public parking garage set to get a face lift is a dull gray concrete monolith surrounded by a rainbow of brightly colored restaurants, shops and attractions.
“It’s smart to incorporate it into areas of key focus for the city,” said Bethune, who added that she “loves” what will be done to the area. “Anytime we work together with the chamber to make our community and our destination cleaner and brighter, it’s a good thing.”
Painting the crosswalks, chamber CEO Karen Riordan hopes, will not only make them prettier but also encourage people to actually use them, rather than jaywalking, as is a habit of many tourists downtown. The project allows locals to directly benefit from the chamber’s spending, which residents don’t often see because it is typically directed toward advertising in other markets.
It’s all part of a plan to get locals more involved with helping the community recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Riordan wants to encourage residents serve as “ambassadors” for the region, whether it’s helping people online or in person find their way around town or to the best local restaurant.
“The last 15 months has been a worldwide pandemic — people not being able to connect with each other, be with each other, see their families,” Riordan said. “This is a moment for us as a community together to pull together.”
The beautification efforts are part of the chamber’s major rebranding, its first in 10 years, that it hopes will give new life to the Grand Strand as the region limps out of the pandemic-induced recession. The City of Myrtle Beach has also been taking steps in recent years to clean up downtown with new landscaping and repaired sidewalks. Two years ago, locals added murals to downtown buildings, like a Mexican-themed Octopus on the side of Gordo’s Tacos and Tequila.
The design for the sidewalks, crosswalks and garage are not yet finalized but will likely incorporate the orange, green and blue wave designs the chamber showed off Thursday morning at its annual summer update during National Travel and Tourism Week.
Riordan said her goal is to have at least some of the work done on the garage and other areas in time for the Sun Fun Festival and Carolina Country Music Festival the first two weekends of June. As long as the chamber meets with the city soon on locations for the art, Bethune said that timeline is a realistic.
“It’s a great opportunity where a lot of people will be downtown, and they’ll be right in that area,” Riordan said. “But, if we can’t get it done by then, we’re not going to give up. We’re just going to continue to push through to get as much of this deployed as we possibly can in the next weeks and months.”