Creating Breweries out of Brownfield Sites

by Shelbey Senkewitz
Oct 14, 2019
0

Brownfields to Breweries

Over the past ten years, craft breweries have experienced a nationwide surge in popularity, and Michigan breweries are no exception. In 2018, the Michigan beer industry generated an economic impact of more than $8.8 billion, and brewers directly or indirectly employed 32,680 Michiganders (Beer Serves America). Beer tourism is so strong that Travelocity, a leading travel fare aggregator website, introduced a beer tourism index to track the "Top Beer Destinations" across the country. The index ranks Michigan cities highly -- Grand Rapids-Wyoming is No. 12 in Large Metro Areas and Kalamazoo-Portage and Niles-Benton Harbor are No. 13 and No. 14, respectively, in Small Metro Areas.

As the Michigan beer industry has continued to grow, and fewer but more unique spaces are left available in downtowns, a popular solution has been to position new breweries at redeveloped urban brownfield sites.

Setting up shop in these locations can be surprisingly beneficial for brewers. Urban brownfield sites are often in close proximity to brewers' target market -- more and more millennials live and work in walkable neighborhoods with public transit and a mix of recreational amenities. Additionally, these properties offer more space for beer production in an already cramped downtown, can add unique architectural features from the more historic aspects of the re-purposed buildings, and can create instantaneous connections to their respective communities. For craft breweries, in particular, this last point is especially important as so many strive to be community focused; this connection to local identity is often reflected in their beer flavors, the structural design and decorations of their taproom and brewery, and their incorporation of local products.

Brownfield redevelopment is proving to be beneficial for brewers, but it can also bring significant improvements to urban communities. For this reason, these brownfield-turned-brewery projects often enjoy broad public support. Not only do these projects improve environmental quality and public health by cleaning up contaminated sites, they also increase neighboring property values, restore tax revenue to the community, and promote revitalization of urban areas by creating jobs and encouraging tourism (specifically through beercations, or vacations focused solely on brewery tourism).

Envirologic has experience conducting these transformational projects across Michigan. Notable past projects include Pigeon Hill Brewing Company (Muskegon), Barrel + Beam (Marquette), Cognition Brewing Company (Ishpeming), Dark Horse Brewing Company (Marshall), Latitude 42 Brewing Company (Portage), and The Landmark Taphouse & Grille (Three Rivers). Our work on the Pigeon Hill Brewing Company project is described below in further detail.

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company -- Muskegon, Michigan

Craft brewer production volume grew about 4 percent nationwide during the first half of 2019 (Brewers Association), so it seems the upward trend is continuing. Our Envirologic team has found these locally focused, unique projects to be particularly appealing and influential. The owners and communities have a vested interest in the success of the business, the properties have compelling histories, and sites that are often blighted are transformed by the renovations. It may also be fair to say our team enjoys a good beer.

Cheers!


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breweries  craft breweries  brownfield redevelopment  local food


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