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      North Myrtle Beach becoming a hot spot for retail development

      Another new retail shopping center is coming to North Myrtle Beach. It's the second major development there in the past year.

      Champions Crossing will be built off Robert Edge Parkway, on a parcel that's considered by North Myrtle Beach officials to be ripe for development, because of the city's new sports complex next door.

      It's also at the intersection of the parkway and Highway 31.

      "If you're coming in from the north, it feeds directly into that. If you're coming in all the way from Georgetown, you can feed directly into that and certainly from the west, so it's got so much going for it," said North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce president Marc Jordan.

      Jordan says there's another factor, too.

      Brunswick County, North Carolina, just a few miles away, is now considered by the federal government to be part of the Myrtle Beach statistical metropolitan area.

      That change added more than 100,000 people to the area's population, putting the Grand Strand on the radar of major developers.

      "You're getting close to half a million people and when you take that number, that starts to be recognized in national searches of consolidated metropolitan areas," said Coastal Carolina University economics professor Rob Salvino.

      The Champions Crossing center will include 250,000 square feet of retail, with out parcels for restaurants and recreation, according to the developer's web site.

      The nearby Coastal North Town Center is more than 350,000 square feet. It's scheduled to open later this year.

      With more people shopping online today, and many indoor malls struggling, Salvino says North Myrtle Beach has another advantage: tourists.

      "Those types of shoppers are certainly different. They're looking for the physical shopping. They come here not just to go to the beach, but to shop physically," Salvino said.

      North Myrtle Beach is also just a few hours away from North Carolina's Research Triangle.

      Jordan says the area has the infrastructure to attract high-tech, knowledge-based jobs.

      Fletcher Bright Company, the Chattanooga-based developer of Champions Crossing, has owned the property since 2007.