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Myrtle Square Mall

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Pioneer Shopping Center Runs Its Course

Myrtle Square Mall, the first mall in Myrtle Beach, gradually is winding down to make room for Coastal Grand-Myrtle Beach, a 1.5 million-square-foot development opening in March and planned as the largest shopping mall in the state.

Because of individual lease obligations, the 40 or so stores remaining at Myrtle Square Mall will not close all at once, but most will either relocate in the new mall or in other locations by March 17.

For longtime employees and regular shoppers at Myrtle Square, saying the long goodbye is bittersweet.

Susan Salinas, sales associate at Reed's Jewelers, has worked with assistant manager Lisette Pringle at Myrtle Square for half a dozen years.

"We're excited because of the size of the store, and we're getting new merchandise that we haven't had before," Salinas said. "But I've lived here all my life, and Myrtle Square was always here. It not being here will be a little bit odd. When you've been in a mall setting, you feel like you're with family."

True to the nature of retail, which thrives on the fresh and new, Myrtle Square for a number of years has had to compete against newer malls and more innovative centers, including Broadway at the Beach, and the addition of two factory outlet centers.

In its youth, however, Myrtle Square was the jewel of Grand Strand retail and helped create the area's reputation as a shopping destination.

"In conjunction with The Pottery in particular, Myrtle Square really started the focus on retail in Myrtle Beach," said Pat Dowling, spokesman for Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., owner of Myrtle Square. "Twenty-five years is usually the life of a mall, so it's gone a good ways and probably what has helped it is its location."

When Myrtle Square first planted itself along Kings Highway near 21st Avenue North, there was no U.S. 17 Bypass to the west, where the area's big-box retailers and Coastal Grand mall now are locating.

The population of Horry County at the time was less than 85,000 and is now more than 196,000. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the county will have nearly 200,000 residents by 2005.

Andy Owings, owner of Andy Owings Music Center, has operated in Myrtle Square since it opened and has watched the area change with the times.

"I kind of hate to see it close. This is home, I reckon," Owings said. "It's kind of sad to see it go because it was the first mall here. Back in the '70s, everything was leased, and everybody was happy and there was traffic ... but it was the only game in town."

Although sad-looking today as it empties, Myrtle Square was on the cutting edge of mall style when it was built in 1975. The mall won several design awards and later made headlines in industry magazines for its aquamarine, ocean-themed food court, added in 1988, and its carousel court, added in 1990.

Bill Pritchard, now a senior vice president at B&C, was the project manager for Nelson Benzing, the Raleigh, N.C., architectural firm that designed the mall.

Pritchard was one of hundreds who attended the opening gala at Myrtle Square in spring 1975, held in the mall's center court dominated by a giant clock hanging from above.

"Probably the most exciting thing, truly, was the clock at center court, which was very, very innovative," Pritchard said. "That was where the festivities were held that night, and it was quite an event. Myrtle Beach was a much smaller community than it is today. I expect anybody who was anybody was invited to come to the party."

The north wing of the mall was completed in 1976 and included the area's first Sears department store, replacing a small catalog store that operated downtown.

"Not only were the tourists finding it, but the locals were finding it, too," Pritchard said. "They didn't have to go to Florence anymore to find their shoes."

Those who have been connected to the mall since its opening are somewhat nostalgic as the once-grand shopping mall begins to shutter its stores.

"In many ways, it's sad to see it today," Pritchard said.

"I can remember the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas, when the parking lot was full out to the edges of the property and the mall was just bustling with people.

"I'm the reason it's still open. We've enjoyed it. It's been a good ride."

I edited and summarized this from this article in The Sun News:

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtl...all/7739253.htm

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There's a website for Myrtle Square that I'm starting at www.myrtlesquare.portroad.com. Any photos or memories of the mall would be appreciated, and you can send them to [email protected] Thanks! Photos would be appreciated, as well.

Anyone like Myrtle Square over Coastal Grand? B&C was stupid to build three malls (Myrtle Square, Coastal Grand, Broadway at the Beach) within a radius of two miles from Myrtle Square Mall. B&C could've redeveloped Myrtle Square. Part of the problem, I guess, is that the mall was in a lousy condition, and B&C wanted to build a new one in its place. At least B&C will demolish this mall instead of letting it decay for 20 years. The reason? The property that it sits on is worth a lot of money, maybe too much for the city of Myrtle Beach to expand the convention center.

I also don't like Coastal Grand because they destroyed acres and acres of wetlands and forests to do it instead of using an existing mall location. Hello?

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While we don't usually allow other sites to be advertized on UrbanPlanet, I will let this one stand. (see our rules) I would be nice if you returned the favor on your site.

BTW, I have posted a number of things about Myrtle Square mall on this site. I was born and raised in Myrtle Beach and remember the opening of the mall in the mid 70s very well.

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Great photos on the site. They brought back some memories.

One note, on this photo, Peebles was then known as Collins. Collins was a local chain that was later bought out by Peebles sometime in the 80s.

aerial.jpg

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Anything would be great. I can't get great response from B&C, but anything would be helpful. I'll think of some questions, but what was the mall like before the renovations in the late 80's/early 90's?

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Is Peebles still open or has it closed already? Also is it going to close or simply move to another location?

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For sure, Peeble's is closed. Nothing is left in it, except empty fixtures. I don't think it's moving to another location, but I could be wrong.

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What will happen to the "World's Largest Clock"?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'm not sure. I haven't gotten communication with Burroughs and Chapin about anything that has to do with the mall, including the clock. As all Myrtle Beach landmarks seem to go, it will probably be torn down with the mall. If the demolition area happens to be open, I'll see if I can drag a number off of the clock if it's in the rubble :rofl:

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:P For sure. Would love to have a giant neon 7 for the back yard.

They auctioned off the clock yesterday at a large auction at the mall. Don't know who got it (who would want it?). I went to the site today and took some pictures of the exterior. I even picked up my piece of the curb to remember MSM by :rolleyes:

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Is demolition of the mall complete yet? Is there any word to what uses the site may be used for in the future?

I was in MB this weekend--Myrtle Square Mall has been completely demolished. Not sure what will now go there.

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I was in MB this weekend--Myrtle Square Mall has been completely demolished. Not sure what will now go there.

it should be a branch of eagles or wings. both need addtional locations on the grand stand badly!!! :lol:

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it should be a branch of eagles or wings. both need addtional locations on the grand stand badly!!! :lol:

Is not Wings on every corner? It is like the CVS/Walgreen's of Myrtle Beach.

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I got to visit this mall on one of it's last days (unfortunately didn't own a digital camera at the time).. back during spring break in 2004. I was glad I had a chance to see it before it closed.

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