Above, Buddy Styers enjoys the fruits of his labor in front of the sign announcing the entrance to the Market Common. “People still tell me how proud they are of what I’ve accomplished, but I don’t feel that I did it, as much as I feel that I was a part of it. We had an amazing team.” — Col. Buddy Styers
This story is the last of a 7-part series which chronicles the redevelopment of the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and its evolution into the Market Common from the perspective of retired Air Force Colonel Buddy Styers, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority. Our history concludes with a Q & A with Colonel Styers. Click here to read Part 6, in the March 2017 issue.
The Redevelopment Years of The Market Common
By Melissa LaScaleia
Insider: How has being involved with the redevelopment of the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base changed your life?
Colonel Styers: My military background prepared me to manage people, complex organizations and large budgets, but I had never been the senior leader of a development project like this; I stretched myself to accomplish it.
Insider: Has your involvement with this redevelopment project changed the way you regard the military?
Colonel Styers: It’s certainly opened my eyes to the complexity and difficulty of their tasks when they are trying to juggle so many responsibilities while meeting goals. They were responsible for the closure of many bases, yet they extended themselves repeatedly to make sure that not only we, but that all the other bases as well, were successful in transitioning, and continued to maintain the base while we were in the redevelopment stages.
Insider: Were there any laws/regulations that made your job more challenging?
Colonel Styers: In many cases, yes. We were not allowed just to design and put together what we wanted.
But the key was in learning what the laws were, and then developing our project accordingly. It was the most difficult for Dan McCaffery, the developer. He knew what he wanted to do that he felt was vital to the success of the urban village, but the local government didn’t allow it.
The most challenging issue for all of us to get through, including the Market Common businesses, was the sign ordinance. A lot of businesses wanted to have more than one sign, but Myrtle Beach is very strict and mandates that you can only have one, and it has to be on your property.
Insider: Were there any laws/regulations that helped or enhanced your work?
Colonel Styers: There are rules about the amount of storm water retention capability you have to have to prevent flooding in the event of a large storm. We had to build a 21-acre lake across the street from the commercial district, as well as four smaller ponds in the surrounding area to store the runoff. Now, the lake has become one of the most popular places in the Market Common.
Insider: What was it like to work with Dan McCaffery?
Colonel Styers: Dan has a lot of experience and a track record of success with large-scale commercial development and redevelopment projects. Even though he was only here once a month, it was a fantastic opportunity to work closely with him on the redevelopment, and then for a two-year period as the senior project manager for the Market Common. He’s honest, and was sure of his vision of what he wanted the area to look like to become an integral part of Horry County. He was confident that he was developing something that could meet those goals.
Insider: What words of wisdom do you have for us in the Market Common who want to support this beautiful community that we live and work in?
Colonel Styers: Continue to build and bring businesses where there are vacancies to further establish the urban village that the community said they wanted. Remain flexible in the face of change. Support the activities that are offered. If we all do those things, it has nowhere to go but up, and better.
Insider: Looking back on your life, are you pleased with your accomplishments?
Colonel Styers: Absolutely. And I couldn’t say it any stronger. I was successful with my military career before I retired, having been recently promoted to colonel, and then base commander. I felt proud of that. Working on the redevelopment of the Air Force base, and seeing it through to fruition… It was a dream come true, to have two opportunities like that in one lifetime.
Insider: If you could advise one thing about building community what would it be?
Colonel Styers: You have to go with the flow. That and establish friendly working relationships with people you have to have on your side to get the job done. I worked the hardest at building those relationships and consequently I always felt like I had the opportunity to ask for what I needed. Even if I didn’t always get what I asked for, I always felt like they were with me, supporting my work.
Insider: What do you think made you personally capable of doing what you did?
Colonel Styers: Even in the Air Force I have always been taught to respect people and treat them like you like to be treated yourself. My strongest attribute is being able to work with people and motivate them to want to do the job that they’ve been hired to do. I think that’s one of the most important qualities of being a leader or manager. You have to be able to make people want to work, and for them to feel like a success when they do it.
Insider: Any last words for us?
Colonel Styers: I’m complimenting you, Melissa, for your ability to listen consistently to my rambling and produce a story out of it. And I’d like to thank the whole community for supporting us and helping us, as much as they were able, in seeing that our redevelopment plan was accomplished.