Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Developers alter plans in North Myrtle Beach

Developers in North Myrtle Beach, after looking at the market, have decided to or are considering making changes to their plans - altering the types of properties they will build, according to city officials.

Builders and developers often make changes throughout the building process, but the types and number of requests is unusual, said Dan Hatley, the principal planner for the City of North Myrtle Beach.

"This time it's just extraordinary because of theeconomy," he said.

Hatley said several developers have come in to discuss potential changes.

Most are looking to build a smaller type of property than they had planned, and some are turning from townhomes to single-family homes, Hatley said.

Smaller homes, lower in price, are where the bulk of sales have been in recent years, and developers whose plans or building have stalled are trying to find ways to get projects going, he said.

Last year, 66 percent of condos were sold for  less than $150,000 and about 76 percent of single-family homes sold for less than $250,000, according to Site Tech Systems.

One example of the changes is Grande Harbour, off of Kingsport Road in North Myrtle Beach.
The first set of three upscale townhomes were built in 2009, but the $400,000 multistory units with elevators didn't sell. While potential buyers liked the units, few could get a loan to buy them or could sell a house elsewhere to make the purchase, said Kyle Davis, the manager of Coastal Sunset Properties, which owns Grande Harbour.

"You've got to be able to adjust to the market and we've been looking for a product that would keep the theme of a beach-type, weekender boating community," he said. "The units start at $100,000 and go up to $150,000 depending on amenities, which puts us right in the market niche with what people can afford and what banks will lend on."

The new houses will be like single-family homes but attached on the first floor through a common wall in a storage unit, which allows the development to be built within the zoning rules, Davis said.

There will be a total of 77 homes in the first phase and an additional 77 in the second phase, he said.

Coastal Sunset Properties will sell some of the lots to Hunter Brown Development, which will build the new properties, Davis said. The attached raised beach houses are similar to those Hunter Brown built at Magnolia Beach West, a Litchfield Beach development that underwent an overhaul in type of properties and was able to sell them quickly.

Construction should start within three months and the first houses should be finished by the end of the year, Davis said. The finishes on the new homes will be basic, which will allow them to be built for less money, Davis said.

"It's something that I think you're going to see more of because for builder, developers to exist in the economy we've got to adjust to what banks are willing to lend money for," he said.
Dany Drouin, a Realtor with Century 21 The Harrelson Group, who is selling the existing townhomes at Grande Harbour, said that in this market buyers are looking for quality properties at a good discount.

"You have to be building the right product," he said. "Builders have to develop a product at a price that buyers will buy. I think they're going in the right direction."

Rising gas prices. Increasing costs for food. Skyrocketing jobless rates amid an anemic economic recovery - if you can still call it that.

Can consumers ever catch a break these days? Next weekend they can.

Shoppers can skip paying the state's 6 percent sales tax and other local sales taxes on a range of items during South Carolina's annual tax-free holiday, which kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Friday and runs through midnight Sunday.

The three-day spree always is big for retailers, and they're expecting it to be even bigger this year as economically battered consumers cling to any discounts they can get.

"We expect it to be a solid weekend of shopping," said Matt Morris, spokesman for Myrtle Beach Mall. "Anything off, consumers are taking advantage of. ... Consumers will start opening their wallets during that three-day period."

Shoppers are expected to save $3 million in taxes during the tax-free holiday this year, in line with the $2.

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