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      Committee tackles 71 vacant buildings on Kings Highway

      Around 71 of Myrtle Beach's storefront buildings are vacant and it's beginning to become a problem. City planners have formed a committee to tackle the eyesores.

      "There are some spaces, relatively large buildings that have been vacant for a number of years, and that is a concerning thing. So it would be nice to think there are some changes that can occur," Bill Pritchard, a Planning Commissioner and chairman of the Kings Highway Vacant Building Re-Use Committee says.

      The committee met for its second time Monday morning.

      Pritchard says there's a danger that many vacancies send a negative message to the 14 million tourists that come to town each year.

      The group met Monday to hear past studies on ways to improve the 13-mile corridor. Some ideas include tax incentives to small businesses, he added.

      "If we can stem it now, before it becomes worse, then it would be beneficial to the community," he said.

      Another plan includes and making Kings Highway more bike and pedestrian friendly. Myrtle Beach Planning Director Jack Walker says the first phase of that has already received $2.5 million in funding.

      "A much wider sidewalk, landscaped medians, slightly reduced lane sizes, stronger pedestrian connection across the intersecting streets," Walker says.

      Construction would be between 3rd Avenue South and where 501 comes into Kings Highway, Walker added. The projects have to go out for bid before work would begin.

      The Kings Highway Vacant Building Re-Use Committee meets again on October 15th.