Code change could mean downtown brewery

Micro bottling and tap room operations would be considered a provisional use for existing or new structures in Central Business Districts with certain conditions, if approved.

The city commission heard a first reading of the amended legislation last week and is expected to vote on the issue Tuesday.

In recent years, micro bottling has become a national trend, said Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck. State legislation has also made it easier for smaller breweries to establish, he added.

“We felt with the growing national trends, we should amend our code to allow for this type of activity,” Heck said.

A microbrewery or brew pub in the city could be a huge attraction downtown, said Center City Association Executive Director Bill Harless. The city will also be mindful of the assets downtown, Harless said, including many of the historic buildings the community wants to see protected.

“It’s very wise of the city to take a look at that and to look at how we can make it easier for businesses to come into Springfield,” Harless said.

The city currently allows bottling to be performed only in manufacturing districts, which are traditionally seen on a much larger scale, Heck said.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for these smaller companies to establish within the community,” he said.

The city has had several inquiries about operations possibly opening in existing structures or constructing new buildings, Heck said.

“We’re really excited about the opportunities that this can present, particularly for the downtown as we continue to revitalize and redevelop,” he said.

Last fall, the former Springfield News-Sun building, 202 N. Limestone St., was rumored to be a possible destination for a local brewery, which Heck said is a good example of the type of building which can be re-utilized into a brewery.

Several interested parties have toured the building, said owner Jim Lagos, but they weren’t interested in moving forward. Lagos is still actively looking for tenants.

Last summer, the city and the Center City Association visited several of the brew pubs and microbreweries in Dayton. They met with owners to find out what kind of support would be needed from local government to help get a business like this off the ground, Harless said.

“We’re all for it,” he said.

In order to receive the provisional use, the business cannot have a production facility that’s more than 15,000-square-feet. The business must also provide a tap room that’s open at least 10 hours per week. It must also have an entrance from the street, according to the proposed legislation.

“We want to create that environment in the downtown where it’s attracting and pulling in people,” Heck said.

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