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      Evolution underway on Myrtle Beach Ocean Boulevard

      One of the oldest buildings on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach has been torn down to make way for something new.

      It's part of an evolution that's underway, some six years after the Pavilion amusement park closed.

      What had been Hoffman's Candy Castle for many years and then a beach wear store has been reduced to rubble.

      In its place will be a new building, a candy store called "I Love Sugar", that's scheduled to open next spring.

      Add a new mini golf course on the site of the former Chesterfield Inn plus the newly-opened Bandito's restaurant, and it's a sign the boulevard is in the midst of a major change.

      "We have a new generation of customers, entrepreneurs, business people, property owners and that's just a natural evolution of any area," said Myrtle Beach Downtown Redevelopment Director David Sebok.

      Sebok credits the Myrtle Beach boardwalk with spurring the boulevard's renewal.

      After the boardwalk opened in 2010, he says downtown merchants had their best year ever, surpassed by an even better year in 2011.

      The president of the Oceanfront Merchants Association says, now that downtown businesses have a couple of good years behind them, they'll be busy updating their properties.

      "You'll see some of those empty lots becoming retail, entertainment, restaurants and you'll see some of the older leases as they expire have some variety coming in there as well," said Chris Walker, owner of Mad Myrtle's Ice Cream Shop.

      Walker says the closing of the Pavilion in 2006 forced downtown business people to work together, and now, merchants have put the pavilion era far behind them.

      Sebok says the boulevard is in a better position now to keep up with the times.

      "As the demographic and as the population of our visitors changes over time, it's going to be actually easier to change some of those attractions, because they're more individually located," Sebok said.

      Walker said there may not be many major developments downtown in 2013, but there could be some new storefronts, facades, and so on.

      But Sebok says in 2014, there may be a wave of more significant developments on the oceanfront.