Downtown Redevelopment Corp. board members are considering an idea that could have people soaring over Myrtle Beach - an oceanfront aerial tram.
Board members postponed a decision this week on whether to research the idea brought to the group's executive director, David Sebok, by the Doppelmayr CTEC company of Salt Lake City. At this point, it's just one of several options for boardwalk-adjacent attractions that companies have suggested, but board members asked to postpone discussion until next month to give them more time to think about it.
"The boardwalk continues to garner national attention from tourists and developers," Sebok said.
Sebok said the aerial tram idea is used in many other cities, including his hometown of Seaside Heights, N.J. He asked redevelopment board members to tell him whether they wanted him to examine the idea more closely and prepare a presentation, but they said they wanted more time to think about it.
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"I think the concept is phenomenal," said board member Chuck Martino. "They talked about putting one in along Ninth Avenue, connecting the Train Depot to Ocean Boulevard, and then one along the boardwalk. I hope they will do the Ninth Avenue part first. That would be a closed gondola, kind of like you see on a ski-lift, where you stand inside but it's all enclosed. The one along the beach would be open. I think it would be really neat. It would certainly change the city's skyscape."
Martino said one of the city's longtime issues has been how to connect the Superblock area with the beach, and this would solve that problem and would provide a park-and-ride situation, too. He said the oceanfront tram would help older people or those who have a harder time walking to have the same boardwalk and downtown experience as others without the extra exertion. He said it also could solve some downtown traffic issues, and perhaps, someday, run the length of the city along the beach.
"Not to be comical, but the sky's the limit," he said.
The boardwalk is supposed to be substantially finished by Easter and completed before the summer season begins. Downtown merchants and property owners have been hustling to dress up their storefronts and find ways to tie into the new 1.2-mile promenade that the city hopes will become its iconic feature.
Teresa Devalle, manager at the Admiral Inn, for example, said her motel phone "has been ringing off the hook with people who want to stay on the boardwalk."
The city is betting people will want to stay, walk, linger, shop, eat and play on and around the boardwalk, and as it nears completion, ideas have been flowing in. Food vendors want spots for carts along the south end of the walk, where there are fewer restaurant options as well as more time to stop at beach ends to sell treats to beachgoers.
People have suggested photo booths, various kinds of entertainment, rooftop bars, weddings on the boardwalk - anything to get a slice of the pie.
The council has considered a number of ideas and proposals and would likely have the final say over the tram, too. Sebok said there would be questions about design, location, setbacks, air rights, ownership and more that would all have to be answered before the idea could become reality.
Sebok said Doppelmayr proposes paying to install the tram rigging, but did not say what other financial arrangements the company put forward.
"At this point," he said, "it's just one of many ideas and inquiries we've received, all of them unique, family-friendly attractions that would provide some revenue."
He said he cannot talk about any of the other large attraction proposals he has received.
"We're just looking at what would be possible," he said.