Folly Beach Pier Replacement
The Folly Beach Fishing Pier is a Lowcountry landmark. Thousands of locals and visitors have fond memories of fishing, dancing or enjoying the views. As the current 1045-foot-long pier, opened in 1995, reaches the end of its useful life, Charleston County Parks is honored to announce the creation of the next Folly Beach Fishing Pier that will serve our community for generations to come. Follow along with the entire transition here.
The Folly Beach Pier will close to the public starting Oct. 19, 2020. Construction is expected to take 28 months, with the new pier opening approximately Spring of 2023.
Why is the pier being replaced?
The current Folly Beach Fishing Pier opened in the summer of 1995 but is now reaching the end of its useful life due to deterioration in the wood pilings caused by marine borers. Timber pile piers typically have an average life expectancy of 20-25 years.
In 2013, we began dive inspections of the pilings, and the most severely deteriorated piles were repaired by an encapsulation process that encased the deteriorated piles in cement. The encapsulation not only killed the wood-eating borers, but it also strengthened the piles and the structural integrity of the pier. The diamond-head has had nearly one-half of the piles encapsulated to ensure the integrity of the pier head for dances, and the walkway has been inspected to ensure it is safe for fishing and sightseeing.
Although the current pier has been determined to be safe by our consultants, there are still many piles remaining that will continue to deteriorate further with worm damage.
Permits were filed in May 2019 with the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) and the Army Corps of Engineers. The state permit was received in October 2019. The federal permit was received on Sept. 2, 2020.
Contract bids were received in late 2019. The contract with construction group Cape Romain Contractors was signed in March 2020.
Plans are for construction to begin in November 2020, following the end of turtle nesting season on Folly Beach. Construction is expected to take 28 months.
Scope of Construction:
The plan is to do a modified “top-down” construction for the new pier. The “apron” area – the rectangular deck behind the restaurant and gift shop – will be constructed first along with the first few bents of the pier walkway. Contractor Cape Romain will then build a trestle within the pier footprint and begin demolition and construction of the diamond head at the end of the pier. Last, the contractors will build the walkway starting from the diamond head and working back towards the shore.
Closures and Impacts to the Public
The walkway section of the Folly Beach Pier will be closed throughout the entire construction period starting Oct. 19.
The “apron” area of the pier - which is the rectangular deck area behind the Pier 101 restaurant, the pier’s gift shop, and restrooms - will be replaced first. The new apron area, along with the restaurant, gift shop, and restrooms, is expected to reopen in Spring 2021. Beach access will be affected at times due to the loading of equipment and material onto the pier. The pier’s parking is expected to be impacted during the construction period. During the apron closure and the first phase of construction (Oct. 19 through Spring 2021), no parking will be available at the pier. Beginning approximately Spring 2021, about half of the pier’s parking lot will reopen for public use.
Pier 101 restaurant's last day of business before construction was Labor Day. The restaurant will reopen and welcome guests this spring.
What to Expect on the New Pier
The new Folly Beach Pier will be constructed using a combination of concrete pilings and wood. It will be reminiscent of the old pier and in the same footprint, but will also offer unobstructed views of the ocean, modern improvements, and a longer lifespan.
Changes and Improvements
Two locations along the pier walkway will be slightly widened, with covered shelters in the middle, to allow additional fishing opportunities and more efficient pedestrian access. The new pier will be designed and constructed using pre-stressed concrete piles, a concrete substructure, and concrete beams, with wooden timber deck panels.
The new pier will offer all of the elements visitors love about the existing pier, including fishing stations, places to watch the sunset, and the beloved Moonlight Mixer dance series. It will continue to offer public restrooms, retail facilities, benches and a shade structure over the pier head.
Folly Beach Pier History
The original Folly Pier was 120-feet wide, 97-feet long and was a green and white structure built with palmetto tree logs. Known for its sheltered dance floor the size of a basketball court, the pier attracted many famous bands and artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, The Drifters, and The Coasters. Following a fire at the nearby Ocean Front Hotel, the pier and pavilion area reopened as the Ocean Plaza in 1960 and featured a boardwalk, amusement rides, a roller skating rink, and concessions.
The Folly Pier and pavilion were lost to another fire in January 1977. After the remains were removed and the boardwalk was sold, a Holiday Inn hotel (now Tides Folly Beach) was built adjacent to the site in 1985.
As part of a 1992 bond, Charleston County Parks was able to purchase the 1.4 acres of beachfront property on Folly. Nearly 20 years after the previous pier burned down, we opened the Edwin S. Taylor Folly Beach Fishing Pier on July 4, 1995. Costing approximately $3.4 million to build, the current pier is 25-feet wide and 1,045 feet long.
Want to Own a Piece of History?
For those wishing to keep a souvenir of the former pier, the construction firm will be salvaging pilings from the current pier, and pieces of those will be made available for purchase from Charleston County Parks at a later date. Proceeds from the sale of piling pieces will benefit the Charleston County Parks Foundation.