The old First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach could turn into a multi-use entertainment business after city council on Monday passed a resolution declaring the property abandoned, thus paving the way for the proposed developer to receive tax credits for renovations.
The developers want to turn the old church location on Kings Highway between 13th and 14th avenues North into the next location of Roar, which at its original location in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a 1920s-themed complex with simulated golf, bowling, self-serve draft beer and a rooftop bar.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune recused herself from the discussion and vote because her husband, real estate broker Brown Bethune, was representing the purchaser.
“There’s a concept out of Winston-Salem called Roar,” said Brown Bethune, explaining the concept of Roar. “It’s a food hall, jazz, interactive golf, putt-putt. A multi-use entertainment complex.”
Neither the church nor the owners of Roar immediately responded to request for comment.
City officials said the developer is under contract to buy the church, but wanted to take advantage of the tax credits they could get for renovating an abandoned building.
They’ll be eligible for an income tax credit of 25% of the cost of renovation that they can take over a three-year period when the building is put back in service as well as a property tax credit of 25% of the cost of renovating expenses. The property tax credit can be spread out for up to eight years.
“This particular tax credit was used for 1229 Shine, the restaurant in Market Common,” said city councilor John Krajc. “It was also used for Grand Strand Brewing Company, and we may have used it ourselves as well. So it has seen some great economic benefit in our city.”
Brown Bethune said he was put in contact with the developers through a third party who knew they were looking to do something at the beach.
“They were looking for a property to do something down here,” Brown Bethune said. “When we pitched the guys on the location and they came down and took a look at it, they saw the value. And where they are in Winston[-Salem] is a historic district; I think it’s an older warehouse that they rehabbed, so I think they liked doing the abandoned building for the credits and some of the other stuff.”
The sanctuary of the old church on Kings Highway was constructed in 1948, and expanded over the years, according the church website. But in 2019, most church activities moved to the new location on Robert Grissom Parkway, according to an affidavit included with the resolution.
The hymns that once echoed through the church hall could be replaced by the blaring of a busy bar as soon as next year.
“I think they’re trying to get it for next season,” said Brown Bethune. “I think it’s a little aggressive, but bless their hearts.”