that could be accomplished within 100 days (“low hanging fruit”), in two years, and in five years.
“There are places we hope to do some quick, easy fixes,”
Coleman added. “Sidewalks are expensive, but resurfacing a lane and painting a walkable/bikeable corridor is
not costly. We expect to see lots of improvements in the
not too distant future.”
Johnson added that more than 50 participants were
expected to participate in that follow-up session. Some
of those newcomers were from other nearby cities along
Kings Highway: North Myrtle Beach, Surfside, and Garden City. “Everyone on the Grand Strand has an issue
with access, and wants to make the road more pedes-trian-friendly and walkable,” he added.
He noted that Myrtle Beach city leaders have already
agreed to budget $200,000 annually for walkability
improvements, such as new sidewalks. His goal for 2017
is bringing in an expert on walkability and the economics of downtown areas for another work session.
While walkability often focuses on improved quality of
life, it also has significant economic benefits that can
help a community. Johnson noted that Myrtle Beach
is bounded by water to the east and west, and there is
little additional land for new residential or commercial
development. “Making the downtown area more accessible will make more opportunities available.”
There are also a number of regular tourists who want
to retire in Myrtle Beach. “They’re attracted to the idea
of living here and walking to the beach,” Johnson said.
One reason millennials and retirees alike are moving to
the Market Commons area is the walkable community.
“When you retire, you want to be able to walk or take
a golf cart to do whatever you want — drop in the local
coffee shop, take in a movie or go to the grocery store.
The city realizes it could do the same thing downtown.”
The NAR grant has also helped strengthen the working
bonds between the city and the Coastal Carolinas association, Johnson and Coleman agree.
“Part of our job is building relationships with local officials and staff,” Johnson noted. “This grant has helped
us do that.”
He said city staff members increasingly seek association
input on new ordinances being considered, property
rights questions, and various housing issues.
Coleman agrees. Working with the association on the
NAR walkability grant and another placemaking grant
has been beneficial for city planners and the community
at large. “It’s refreshing to work with a group of people
who put their money and their work where their mouth
is,” she said. “We don’t work with another group that
does so much to benefit the people on a daily basis in
Bobby L. Hickman is a freelance business journalist based in Atlanta.
Walkability has significant
economic benefits that can
help a community.
Dan Burden, co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute,
led a walking audit of Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach.