Remembering the Past with Colonel Buddy Styers
This story is part 5 of a 7 part series which chronicles the re-development of the former Air Force base into the Market Common area as we know it today. Our history continues where we left off with the January issue.
“After we started building the Market Common,” Buddy says, “we realized, and thankfully the city also realized, that this building project was a great opportunity to add amenities that didn’t exist anywhere else in Myrtle Beach. Today, when you drive by the lake, you can see mothers and fathers walking their children, people sitting in bench swings— it’s the kind of scene we always envisioned for the Market Common. Luckily, the city shared our vision and was very interested in making that possible.”
The city built the ball field complex, the roller skating rink, and the soccer fields— and they renovated crabtree gym— all of which have been instrumental in the growth of the Market Common and contributing to it’s wonderful, homey vibe.
Additionally, Horry Georgetown Technical College played a major role in the redevelopment process. Through federal law, and with the approval and support of the Redevelopment Authority, the college received property in the Market Common at no cost.
“Horry Georgetown Technical College moved their three biggest programs from the Conway campus here,” Buddy tells me, “medical/nursing, dentistry, and culinary arts. That freed up a lot of space on their landlocked Conway campus for other programs.”
The Redevelopment Authority helped finance many of the school’s projects in the Market Common. Probably the most important was the expansion of the nursing program.
“Back then,” Buddy reminisces, “we had a shortage of nurses in Myrtle Beach. And the college could only take 40 people a year who wanted to go to nursing school; they had a waiting list of 300 people.” Together, the college and the Redevelopment Authority converted what was the base hospital into the Robert E. Speir Building, named after a local doctor. The Speir family, along with the Redevelopment Authority, and many of the local medical community, made generous financial contributions to help with the construction and implementation of the building, where the nursing program was moved. With the completion of the building, the program was greatly expanded and enhanced by the increased number of new students they could accept each year.
The Redevelopment Authority also helped finance an annex to the Speir Building to house the dental program classrooms and community dental clinic.
Schools contribute an energy of freshness, youthful vitality, learning, and enthusiasm. The expansion of the Technical College’s programs in the Market Common was an asset to the community just with its presence; but additionally, the new graduates boost the economy, because they are a workforce providing services that benefit everyone.
“Both of these players have been really important,” Buddy tells me. “If the city and Horry Georgetown Tech hadn’t gotten so involved and added things, our development probably would have been slower. They added the amenities that make people want to be a part of this place— that makes people want to come out here and gives them a reason to come. In the end, they’ve been real pluses to the development and creation of this urban village.”
“The Redevelopment Authority was a development-finance partner for the city,” Buddy says, “helping to make these projects happen. We put money into redoing the gymnasium, Crabtree Gym, the re station, recreation center, and ball fields. The city paid much of their share with tax increment financing (TIF).”
The legality of tax increment financing requires that you disclose any and all projects that you might finance with those tax increments before you apply for it. You have to be transparent about what you want to do with the money, and have your long-term vision in place.
The TIF plan passed and over a ten year period the bonds were paid off and the other projects listed in the TIF plan have been implemented— the fire station and the ball field complex, in addition to development of the public infrastructure in the Market Common like parking garages, streets, sidewalks, and recreation areas.
Tax increment financing places a valuation on your property. As the value of property increases, the taxes increase on your property, and the increase pays for the infrastructure that was already put in place.
“As we started building single family homes,” Buddy says, “and you saw other economic improvements, that gave the city the opportunity to pay o the bonds that they had purchased to pay for the public infrastructure for the Market Common.” Using a TIF allowed for the Market Common to be developed, as the city didn’t have any funds in their overall budget for the Market Common projects.
“If not for the TIF, it would have been difficult for Myrtle Beach to end tax infrastructure for any of this to happen,” Buddy says.
To read Part IV of The Redevelopment Years of the Market Common, click here!