Nichols recommendation to elevate downtown area could raise recovery cost

NICHOLS, SC (WBTW) – Leaders in the town of Nichols met with businesses owners to discuss incentives or needs, to bring the small town back to life.

Last week, the town of Nichols brought in a surveying group called Byrd Land Surveying to look at the Fire Department and the Nichols Grill. Both properties are owned by the town. The inspector recommended that the downtown area needs to be raised by 3.5 to 4 feet.

The recommendation presented during the Steering Committee meeting could make the rebuilding process much more expensive.

“We found out that were the fire department was it would actually have to be raised to rebuild at that location four feet, “ said Nichols Mayor Lawson Battle. “A lot of the problems with that, in downtown in that district, all of those buildings have joining walls and they are old. So, elevating is going to be very expensive if it can be done.”

Battle says the Interim Administrator Roland Windham is looking for grant money to help businesses rebuild while also working with larger companies to bring jobs back to Nichols.

“We are not leaving any stone unturned we’re doing everything that we can. To try to help Nichols remain Nichols. Our residents need to know that,” said Battle.

Of the 22 businesses in Nichols, seven businesses have reopened but Battle said the donated money that totals to a little more than $360,000 is not enough to rebuild businesses.

“We are so thankful. Everybody is so grateful [for the donated money]. Realistically that wouldn’t even touch bringing one of those businesses back,” said Battle. “That’s not including the cost to elevate it or redo it. Several of them will take a million plus dollars to fix.”

Former Representative Wayne George, a member of the Steering Committee said in order for the town to rebuild, the town needs to bring jobs to the area or create a destination leaving Myrtle Beach.

He also said Federal and State leaders should help the town more.

Money is the primary need for the town and some business owners have already spent all they have.

Owner Geraldine Ford, owns Paul’s Fish Market, was at the meeting. She said she spent more than $200,000 to reopen her family business in February.

“I used all my [savings] money and the insurance to get this building back open,” she explained.

Fords family also owns a row of vacant buildings in the downtown area. He hopes the Steering Committee will allocate money for businesses to reopen in the town.

“There are some people back but not a whole lot back,” said Ford.

Battle said town is working with a small business development program to help businesses develop a plan to rebuild at no cost to the business owner.

Also, the Town has a temporary website that will provide updates on the progress. That website is NicholsSC.org.