The I last wrote about the actual process of planning and opening a brewery was back when I said that a location announcement was imminent. That was in July, and here it is November and I still haven’t made any announcements. I do apologize about that, but we are not planning to send out any info prematurely. We want to make sure that when we tell you where we are going and when we are going to open, that we will not be guessing.
In the previously mentioned post, I also talked about two really incredible opportunities that had presented themselves. Both of the properties were in close proximity to each other and both had incredible PROs and only minimal CONs. But in the end, one property stood out to us. One property gave us, just Pearce and I, full ownership of the actual dirt and building and one property did not. We would have had to give up too much equity in our business and still never really owned the building or land in the second option. It pretty much made it a no brainer. We put in a contract to purchase Option One.
For the next several weeks and months I will be writing about the process and the trials and tribulations of building a brewery at Option One.
Option One is a vacant piece of land in an up-and-coming, well-trafficked (no puns intended) area of North Charleston. We have the property under contract and are working with a local urban planner to help develop the property. This means that we will be building a new building in a hip area and will have a loyal population all within walking distance. This is completely exciting for us because it completely fits our vision of this brewery.
The first obstacle in our forward progress was that the property was not zoned to allow a production brewery. The zoning would have allowed for a brew pub, which means that we could have had a brewery but we would not have been able to distribute any product outside of our tap room. This was not in line with our business plan, so we decided to push for the City to change the zoning on the property to a similar, but more favorable zoning.
Changing the zoning of a property is not a terribly HARD process to get started, but it is time-consuming, takes a while to jump through all of the hoops, and if the new zoning doesn’t make sense for the community then the City may not grant it.
We started the process and made application to the City at the end of September and they posted a notice on the piece of property calling for any public comments. The first step was to go before the Planning and Zoning Board to get a recommendation to take the zoning change request to City Council for review. There were a couple of folks who came out to speak against the zoning change. One lady was opposed to a new alcohol establishment being allowed. She is the president of one of the neighborhood groups and doesn’t want to see the area become “alcohol alley.” But the Planning Commission cannot concern itself with the intended use, only whether or not the zoning fits with the area. The other opponent was more vocal about changing the zoning and it would seem that he opposes MOST of the requests for zoning changes in the area. The City had sent their recommendation to approve and the Planning and Zoning board followed suit and sent the request forward with the one condition that we visit with the neighborhood groups and introduce ourselves and what we are planning. We met with the group not too long after the first meeting and felt that we were able to address all concerns and we left the meeting with the feeling that our presentation was a success.
The next step, two weeks later, was the first reading with City Council. Once again the same opponents showed up and said their piece. They were noted but the motion was sent to the next step, Public Safety.
The Public Safety meeting was the following week. It also allowed public comments, but there was no opposition at that meeting. The Public Safety committee voted unanimously for approval. That left one final step.
The next week the motion went back to City Council for final vote. There was no discussion and the vote passed unanimously.
That means that our property is approved for a brewery and the ball keeps rolling forward.
Next steps: Planning and Design…
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