Waccamaw Factory Shoppes to Become Mixed Use


Neighbors polish plans around Hard Rock Park;
Paradise City shopping center set to replace Waccamaw Factory Shoppes

April 30, 2008

By Jessica Foster – The Sun News

Driving down U.S. 501, Hard Rock Park’s signature roller coaster can be seen peeping over a vacant shopping mall, remnants of the former Waccamaw Factory Shoppes’ glory days. But more change is coming for the area known as Fantasy Harbour.

The old shopping buildings will be replaced with a complex dubbed Paradise City, and a timeshare resort could be in the works near Medieval Times dinner theater.

Park investors own several tracts in the Fantasy Harbour area but are staying silent on their development details.

One 4-acre tract next to Medieval Times on Harbour Boulevard could be the site of a new timeshare complex called Backstage Resort.

Horry County’s deputy planning director Carol Coleman said she talked to the project’s architect and construction company about the 120-unit complex, though no official plans have been submitted.

Orlando-based companies Winter Park Construction and L2 Studios Inc. confirmed that they’re working on preliminary drawings, and at least half a dozen online job sites advertise open positions with Backstage Resort, saying sales and marketing will start this summer.

“It’s very very preliminary,” said Richard Wilson, a principal at L2 Studios Inc.

“We’ve designed the units and taken a look at what the actual resort buildings might look like.”

Hard Rock Park’s chief executive officer, Steven Goodwin, however, said he has no plans ready to release for that property. He said he’s in constant discussion with various developers.

“I own that property, and I submitted no plans to the county,” he said. “We haven’t announced anything, and I haven’t done anything with that property.”

As for the former Waccamaw Factory Shoppes site, it will eventually be transformed into a $300 million complex that will include a hotel, homes, stores, restaurants and an entertainment area. Next Step Partners LLC, which includes Hard Rock Park investors, bought the property last year.

Goodwin declined to say when construction on the project would start or when the old buildings would be torn down.

The $400 million theme park, the first in the world with the Hard Rock brand, opened this month. Its signature ride is the spiraling coaster seen in the skyline, called Led Zeppelin – The Ride.

A digital sign promoting Hard Rock Park sits in the former shopping center lot aiming to catch the eye of drivers along busy U.S. 501.

Russell Davis, owner of Big D’s BBQ Barn across the street from the park, said the old shopping center detracts from the area.

“I think that it’s probably a sore eye at this moment for people coming in,” he said. “You really don’t know there’s a theme park back there unless you see the roller coaster sticking up.”

The Waccamaw Factory Shoppes sold to NextStep Partners, LLC for about $20.8 million in 2007

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