Digital billboards in Boulevard's future

A big change in appearance is coming to one of the most popular spots in Myrtle Beach.

City Council is overhauling the city's sign ordinance to allow animated digital signs in the city, especially on Ocean Boulevard.

It's going to take a few years, but eventually, we'll see a big difference, because the city plans to allow Boulevard businesses to be limited only by their imagination. It'll be anything goes for digital signs.

Peaches Corner is a popular Ocean Boulevard icon, but the manager says the diner's familiar marquee has been there too long. "I would be willing to say 40 to 50 years probably," said Briggs Dickerson, Peaches Corner.

So Dickerson wants to liven it up, with an animated sign that will wrap around the building, offering a colorful, moving image. One that might just inspire others on the Boulevard. "Maybe it'll give something for other businesses down here to shoot for. Give them a look and a reason to try to beautify their building."

The Peaches Corner sign wouldn't go up until next spring and city officials say it could take years for the look of the Boulevard to change, because not every business will be able to afford an animated sign right away.

But eventually, the two amusement districts on the Boulevard could resemble a mini New York Times Square. "There are no size restrictions. There apparently is going to be no number restriction on those two sections. So yes, you'll see lots of activity as businesses convert their signs," said city spokesman Mark Kruea.

Outside the Boulevard, the new sign law will bring changes too, but not nearly as noticeable.

In those areas, City Council is working on a swap system, in which businesses would give up two regular billboards for the right to put up one digital. But it's the city's entertainment district that has people excited.

Dickerson says he sees a day when animated signs will be used for Amber Alerts and evacuation routes, while on their own, they'll draw people downtown, just to look.

City Council has put off a vote on the sign ordinance to make some final changes. It's expected to come up for a vote in September.