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Wednesday, 08 October 2014 22:43

West Michigan breweries turn to under-used urban areas for expansions

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New Holland Brewing Co. and Rockford Construction are partnering on a $17 million mixed-use project in the west side neighborhood of Grand Rapids at the site of a former lingerie store and adult shop. New Holland Brewing Co. and Rockford Construction are partnering on a $17 million mixed-use project in the west side neighborhood of Grand Rapids at the site of a former lingerie store and adult shop. COURTESY RENDERING

The recent expansions of two major West Michigan craft breweries help demonstrate the companies’ desire to activate under-used space in urban areas.

Both Holland-based New Holland Brewing Company LLC and Founders Brewing Co. of Grand Rapids have announced expansions near downtown Grand Rapids that total near $55 million and are targeted for sites that were otherwise fairly “low use,” sources said.

In an announcement last week, New Holland detailed its plans for its first satellite brewery and distillery location, which will be built on Bridge Street in the west side neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The site — a former lingerie and adult store — will be turned into a mixed-use development with a New Holland taproom and restaurant, along with office space, retail and 35 apartments.

The $17 million project in collaboration with Grand Rapids-based Rockford Construction Co. is one of several projects aimed at rejuvenating the area, said Rockford CEO Mike VanGessel at an unveiling event for the project.

This development is the first of four projects in the west side neighborhood that are expected to total about $70 million, VanGessel said, noting the plans are currently in various stages of discussions.

Having recently moved its headquarters to the neighborhood, Rockford has been buying up a large amount of property on the west side in the hopes of spurring increased development. The work there differs somewhat from the projects the developer and construction firm has undertaken in other corridors, VanGessel told MiBiz.

“Over here, we have had to look at (development) from a bit of a city-building standpoint,” he said. “There’s a lot of parking lots and in (the New Holland development), buildings are going to come down. What we are hoping to do is begin to set the tone and the tenure of what great design is and what great uses are. We’re really thinking about it from the standpoint of not today but the future.”

The New Holland expansion is expected to create approximately 150 new jobs.

On the other hand, Founders’ two-part plan has the brewery staying in its existing location on the southwest edge of downtown Grand Rapids, but expanding to take up an entire city block, bordered by Grandville Avenue, Williams Street, Finney Avenue and Bartlett Street.

Once both phases of the expansion are complete, the brewery expects to invest in excess of $40 million and create 72 new jobs its production facility, according to the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority documents.

The redevelopment will include significant cleanup of the Pacific Pride gas station on the southwest corner of its newly acquired property.

The expansion will more than triple Founders Brewing’s capacity. The company will finish the year by delivering more than 200,000 barrels and is projecting to surpass 300,000 barrels in 2015, said Founders President Mike Stevens. The newest addition will allow Founders’ capacity to reach 900,000 barrels.

Combined, the state’s brewers produced just 582,909 barrels of craft beer as of 2013, according to the Brewers Association, a nationwide trade group.

Stevens said Founders expects to run into some growing pains, particularly as craft beer gains popularity nationwide.

“The distribution space is getting more and more crowded,” he said. “We will find space on (store) shelves but it will be more competitive.”

The expansion will also clear nearly all of the brewery’s on-site parking capacity. Founders has a long-term plan in the works that will give patrons and employees more parking than they currently have, but Stevens declined to share specifics just yet. That plan will be announced in the next month or so, he said.

Grand Rapids-based Pioneer Construction Co. will serve as general contractor for the expansion.

Read 4768 times Last modified on Wednesday, 08 October 2014 22:48

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