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Neuweiler Brewery developers get conditional nod from Allentown planners on office building, brewpub

The long anticipated redevelopment of the Neuweiler Brewery in Allentown is moving forward.The Allentown Planning Commission on Tuesday granted Brewers Hill Development Group conditional approval to proceed with plans to transform a 6,500-square-foot storage building into a brewpub and renovate a three-floor, 48,000-square-foot former bottling shop into an mixed-use commercial or office building.In addition to a number of technical revisions to the land-development plan, the developer must seek a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board allowing the brewpub in an industrial zoning district.The North Front Street complex, completed in 1913, is on the National Register of Historical Places. The roughly 200,000-square-foot brewery closed in 1968, and the site has mostly remained vacant since.Brewers Hill is an offshoot of Josh Wood and Alex Friedman’s New York marketing firm, Ruckus Marketing, which won the right to redevelop the North Front Street property in late 2012 and bought it for $1.7 million in March 2014.Wood said Tuesday they are close to securing a tenant for the brewpub and have secured multiple office tenants covering roughly two-thirds of the available space in the former bottling house, also known as Building J. They declined to name the tenants, but said they hope to begin doing so in the next three to four months.Some renderings of the bottling house-turned-office building and the storage-facility-turned-brewpub at Neuweiler. pic.twitter.com/NVFRkMdKRk— Andrew Wagaman (@AndrewWagaman) June 11, 2019Friedman said Tuesday they’re “at the finish line” in securing private financing for the project, which is contingent on regulatory approvals. The 4.25-acre property is also in Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which means Brewers Hill can tap state and local tax revenue generated in the zone to pay redevelopment project debt. They plan on approaching the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority with a financing application after securing approvals from the city.The first floor of the bottling house could host a medical office, and the second floor (level with Front Street) could include retail, but Wood said the building most likely will start as all commercial office space, with different tenants on each floor.A brewpub floor plan showed 221 seats inside with a bar and a stage, plus an outdoor patio on the side facing the future commercial office building.Wood and Friedman also plan on razing a building next to the future brewpub that would offer a better sense of the 2-plus acres of open space on the eastern end of the property, which the planned Riverside Drive (part of the Waterfront project) will cross before meeting Pump Place, across Front Street from Gordon Street.READ MORE: Neuweiler brewery developers looking for tenants after renovationBrewers Hill’s initial $30 million plan was to launch its own brewery using brands and recipes acquired from former client Legacy Brewing of Reading in 2010. The owners predicted it would be churning out craft beers by early 2015. Another portion of the brewery would be used for a brewpub, and the rest of the complex’s nearly 200,000 square feet would be converted to retail, office or other commercial space with a possible business incubator.A scaled-back plan was unveiled in 2017, and Wood and Friedman spent that fall cleaning up the bottling house and storage building and a main parking lot on the property. Crews removed about 30 dumpsters’ worth of junk out of the bottling house, power-washed the interior and installed temporary lighting. They also blew out windows in walls running eight bricks deep in some areas and cleared 50 years’ worth of underbrush from the area in between buildings.Redevelopment of the six-story former brew house remains on the back burner and depends on the success of the first phase, Wood said.The Allentown Commercial and Industrial Development Authority, from whom Brewers Hill bought the property, amended a deed in July 2017 that gave the developers an August 2018 deadline for completing at least $3 million in improvements to the bottling house before the authority took the property back. Brewers Hill had the option to extend the deadline by paying the city $100,000.Morning Call reporter Andrew Wagaman can be reached at 610-820-6764 or awagaman@mcall.com
Source: Morningcall

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