MYRTLE BEACH — The resort city's downtown superblock, the site of a controversial redevelopment project, could benefit from a new national program to connect low-income areas with private investment.
The five-sided block at 9th Avenue North and Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach will be one of South Carolina's 135 proposed "opportunity zones" selected by Gov. Henry McMaster. Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune said that the superblock would be included in a phone call on Thursday afternoon.
The program was passed as a part of the federal bill implementing tax cuts last year, and was championed by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., according to The New York Times.
McMaster will submit a list of sites across the state that could qualify as opportunity zones to the U.S. Treasury. He is expected to make his announcement at 10 a.m. Friday.
"The program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into opportunity funds that are dedicated to investing into opportunity zones designated by the chief executives of every U.S. state and territory," according to a press release from McMaster's office.
Bethune declined to give more detail about the initiative or what it could mean to the city specifically, saying that more information would come out in a press conference after the governor's announcement.
"This is a big deal for Myrtle Beach," said Bethune, who was waiting for a flight home from Washington, D.C., after a two-day trip to meet legislators. “It’s what I’ve been up here trying to make happen.”
In January 2017, Myrtle Beach's former mayor revealed that the city had been the buyer behind several anonymous property transactions on the superblock in the months before and intended to build a library and children's museum there.
Local officials said the project would help an area that had seen several shootings. But the project quickly became controversial, and for a time the city leveraged the possibility of eminent domain over two landowners who did not want to sell.
The legal mechanism has since been taken off the table.