Surfside pier will be rebuilt. But what to do about the restaurant, bait shop?

The Surfside pier, badly damaged last year by Hurricane Matthew, will be replaced with a sturdier pier on the same site. Town council members in Surfside Beach voted unanimously on Saturday to replace the pier with a concrete foundation, which project consultants estimated could last 50 years.

Roughly 300 feet were ripped off of the town’s wooden pier last October during Hurricane Matthew.

“I want this to be the last time. I don’t want ever to lose a whole season again,” Councilman Ron Ott said. “Once we build it we should build it correctly.”

The $9.2 million cost for a concrete pier, which will cover the same footprint as the previous pier, will be funded 75 percent by Federal Emergency Management Agency aid and 25 percent by the state of South Carolina, Town Administrator Micki Fellner said.

However, that funding covers replacing everything except for the buildings on the current pier, which house an ice cream shop, bait shop and restaurant.

Troy Roehm of LS3P Architects presented three ideas for what to do with those spaces, which are leased by their tenants. In all three options, the foundation will be raised 10 feet to avoid storm surge and flooding and an elevator would be added for improved disability access.

The three options include:

  • Replacing the two buildings with the same space as the current structures, as about 5,028 total square feet to be leased to tenants;
  • Adding a third building on the north side, in front of the bait shop, creating a total of 9,726 square feet;
  • Or, adding a second level on top of three buildings, creating a total of 18,080 square feet.

Residents worried whether the third option, which would dramatically change the feel of the small town’s iconic pier, would lead to a lack of parking in the town’s center. It was also the most expensive proposal.

“I don’t ever think we’ve had enough parking in this town for the beach itself,” resident Patricia Magliette said.

She and others also expressed concern that the town would not be able to fill the additional space if it pursues the two-story option.

But Curt Kremer, the owner of Licks Ice Cream Shoppe and bait shop Pier Outfitters, was more optimistic.

“The building structures are a tough call for you guys to make,” he told town council. “I think you can fill those spaces.”

Kremer’s businesses and the Surf Diner, on the south side of the pier, will face some short-term pain when the town begins construction. Raising the structure 10 feet would likely require ripping down the buildings at the entrance of the pier in the interim, Kremer said.

Kremer’s business took a hit this summer after anglers stopped visiting the pier and buying supplies from his shop.

“My employees will suffer,” said Kremer, who said he employs twelve people at the height of the summer and four people in the off-season.

He said he supports the decision to rebuild in concrete, however.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ