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Litchfield: Resort's renovation plan adds 100 condos

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A plan to redevelop the Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort to add 100 condos and new commercial space will get a hearing from the Georgetown County Planning Commission next week. The project is moving forward after a vote late last year by owners in Litchfield by the Sea to include the 12.6-acre resort in its association. A timetable has not been set for the project, according to its designer.

The project requires county approval because the condos were not included in the original “planned development” zoning for the property.

The property was developed by the Litchfield Co. as a hotel and two movie theaters. It was sold to Myrtle Beach National after the company went into bankruptcy in the early 1990s. One theater was converted into conference space and the hotel rooms were renovated and sold as individual units.

“The facilities are pretty dated,” said Steve Goggans, whose firm SGA Architecture is designing the project. “All that surplus space they don’t need. It’s unnecessary to their business plan.”

Myrtle Beach National wants to raze the existing offices, shops and theaters. It proposes 100 two-bedroom condos in four three-story buildings. There will be three restaurants, 28,500 square feet of retail space and 20,425 square feet of office space.

The condos will be oriented around “enhanced water features,” Goggans said. One of those is a pool that will be created on the island in a lake on the site, “like things you might see in the Caribbean,” he said.

The commercial space will be “a mini town center,” Goggans said, that will be designed to appeal to both resort customers and the wider community. Businesses will have entrances facing Highway 17 and an interior courtyard.

The conceptual plans were developed with input from the Litchfield by the Sea Community Association board and presented to property owners last year for a vote along with a $4.5 million renovation of Litchfield by the Sea. The renovations, which required a special assessment, passed.

The vote on including the resort failed by a narrow margin.

It passed comfortably in December, probably because it was considered separately from the special assessment, said Bill Wilson, the association president.

Litchfield Beach and Golf has beach access through Litchfield by the Sea, the agreement with Myrtle Beach National revises that to specify access is only for its Litchfield resort accommodations. The company also gives the community association architectural review of the new construction and $1.5 million for the association’s reserve fund.

The agreement is in effect until Jan. 1, 2015 and can be extended to 2020. Payments to the community association won’t start until Myrtle Beach National closes on its construction loan.

Wilson said the association would like the work to begin as soon as possible.

“Myrtle Beach National would say, first of all, they don’t have a definitive timeline,” Goggans said. “It is market driven.”

The Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association has reviewed the plans and has no concerns, said Richard Smith, the association president.

“If it doesn’t affect the immediate community, we don’t take a position on it,” he said.

The Planning Commission hearing will be March 17 at 5:30 p.m. in County Council chambers.

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