Former Black Bear Golf Club sells, development plan changes

The site of the former Black Bear Golf Club in Longs has been sold to a group that intends to redevelop it, though the plans for the property have become less adventurous.

A proposed development that once included two paved asphalt go-kart tracks for high-speed racing is now more mainstream, though a unique water park and off-road ATV and bike trails are still a possibility.

The 196-acre property sold for $1.35 million, according to a filing with the Horry County Register of Deeds on Friday, to a group of investors that includes minority partner Steve Powell of Venture Engineering Inc., who drew up the redevelopment proposal.

Black Bear Golf Club has been closed since August 2016. It had been owned by the family of Grand Strand resident and China native Kang Zou, who purchased it with his parents in May 2014 for $1.5 million but closed it because it was losing money, he said.

The developers, registered as Apex Land Holdings LLC, received the necessary zoning from Horry County Council last January to move forward with their plans once the sale was finalized.

But the go-kart tracks have been eliminated from the plans, and the ATV/bike trails aren’t assured.

Single-family housing, an RV park with approximately 150 vehicle spaces, and some smaller park model homes that are between 650 and 900 square feet with two bedrooms, two baths and a loft are now planned. The park model homes will be on rented lots.

“We haven’t ruled [go-kart tracks] out entirely, but there seems to be more interest in pursuing more of the single-family housing for obvious reasons,” Powell said.

Powell said if a water park is built, it is expected to be a lake with a liner with unusual attractions, a man-made beach and recreation elements for children of all ages. It will run close to S.C. 9 and any trails would likely run adjacent to the lake.

“We still think we’re going to have a water park out there, and it will be rather unique,” Powell said. “We haven’t ruled [trails] out in what I would call the recreational area the next to the water park. That’s at least part of what we’re considering doing.”

Powell said the loss of Conway pro kart racer Matt Bryant from the investment group has led to the likely loss of the tracks from the development. Amateur and pro tracks were planned, and invitational races that might have attracted racers from Europe and across the U.S., including current and former NASCAR drivers, were once planned.

“I’d say at this point the probability of building the race tracks is low,” Powell said. “Only if somebody came in to partner with us would that still be an option on the table with our group.”

The golf clubhouse is slated to become an amenity for the RV and park model home visitors and residents – perhaps including a restaurant and bar – and the existing golf course cart paths may be refurbished for carts, bikes and walking.

Powell said most of the 19 existing ponds on the property are stocked with fish.

The first residential phase of 73 single-family lots is under design and will be under construction this year, Powell said.

“I think everybody believes that Highway 9 is going to be the next growth corridor, and as far as roads and traffic it’s probably the least stressed of any major roadway in the county,” Powell said. “I think it’s an area that’s going to see a lot of attention in the next five to 10 years.”

Powell said Black Bear has some natural elevation changes, and a concern on parts of the property is flash flooding from Buck Creek canal, which used to cause the golf course to close several days each year.

Flash flooding from a heavy rain occurrence is much more of a concern on the property than sustained flooding when the Waccamaw River, which connects to Buck Creek, overflows its banks, as it has in three of the past four years in September or October.

The RV park, which will have daily and weekly rentals but not annual residents, is in a flood-prone area.

“At least one of the reasons we zoned this the way we did is because the tract is cut in two bounded by Buck Creek canal, and it floods and often floods fairly severely,” Powell said. “For those elements that we put in the Buck Creek flood plain, like RV spots, if we have a heavy rainfall we’ll have to get people to move out of their camping spots. There won’t be any permanently mounted RVs in the flood zone. We’ll have a plan to react to that. They can always go back in the next day.”

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