Folly Beach Pier Replacement
The Folly Beach Pier is closed to the public due to replacement construction which is expected to take 28 months, with the new pier opening approximately Spring of 2023. As the former, which opened in 1995, reached the end of its useful life, Charleston County Parks is moving forward with 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.
Jan. 8, 2021:
The Folly Beach Pier Replacement project commenced on Oct. 19 and is currently in Phase 1. Progress so far has included: demolition of 150 feet of the pier structure starting from the land side, installation of 36 piles, and installation of support piles for the changing stations, showers and beach access areas. Currently, the project is on schedule and we anticipate that the apron section of the pier (the rectangular deck in front of the restaurant and gift shop) will reopen in Spring 2021. The remainder of the pier is expected to open in Spring of 2023.
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.
The contract with construction group Cape Romain Contractors was signed in March 2020.
Construction began on October 19, 2020, and 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.
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, 2020 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 will reopen and welcome guests in Spring 2021.
Why is the pier being replaced?
The current Folly Beach Fishing Pier opened in the summer of 1995 but reached 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 former pier was determined to be safe by our consultants, there were still many piles remaining that will continue to deteriorate further with worm damage.
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. If you would like to be notified when these become available for sale, please visit our interest form for more information.