News Section: Local Government
In the City of Bradenton, Microbreweries and Resource Centers Can Coexist
|Little Giant Brewery will be opening Jan. 1, 2012. It is located at 800 17th Avenue West in Bradenton.|
BRADENTON -- A population of destitute residents continually walks back and forth on 17th Avenue West utilizing the array of services provided by the Bill Galvano One Stop Center. While the facility offers financial help, counseling, health care, and employment assistance to those in need, the impoverished clientele might deter a business owner looking to open up across the street. But proprietor Michael Wagner sees only positive things from his recent relocation just off of Ninth Street. For one, he has his choice of construction day workers willing to jump on the opportunity to help him remodel -- and they all seem to be passing right in front of his newly refurbished windows.
At Monday’s meeting, the Bradenton City Council approved Wagner’s plan to own and operate a light manufacturing microbrewery and lounge at 800 17th 'Avenue West. The site was formerly Fogartyville Café, a popular local blues bar.
“That was the site of Fogarty Café and I believe it will fit in nicely there,” said councilman Patrick Roff.
“The distressed concrete ceilings are perfect for making beer and the front will serve as a lounge for customers,” said Wagner. “I make good beer for people who enjoy good beer.”
Little Giant Brewery, Bradenton’s first microbrewery, was approved unanimously with the stipulations that production must occur within the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the lounge will be open from 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the premises will be re-landscaped and truck deliveries and pick-ups will be limited to morning hours.
|Councilman Bemis Smith opposed extending food service hours for Bill Galvano One Stop Center.|
Councilman Bemis Smith opposed an effort to extend hours at a resource center adjacent to the new brewery. Although the effort passed 4-1 (with councilman Bemis Smith opposing), Smith criticized the board, calling them “schizophrenic” when it came to Ninth Street planning. According to Smith, the council has invested over $7 million dollars trying to revamp the area near McKechnie Field as an “entertainment district.” By extending the food service period at the one stop center, the council was directly marring the efforts, explained Smith.
“The county should have come up with areas that were more conducive to lifetime transitions,” Smith said. “This area is not well suited and (extending food service hours) is not compatible with an entertainment district.”
Mayor Poston and Wagner see things differently.
“When One Stop first opened there, we told them if we grow, they go,” Poston said. “I’m a free market kind of guy and the need has grown there. Many have lost their jobs and homes and the widespread need for help has changed the scenario. The very idea that we have an applicant who wants to open a brewery across the street shows the two can coexist.”
Poston said that when the economy comes back, people may not need that additional space and then the property can be sold and serve a different purpose. Until then, the One Stop Center will serve food from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., it formerly served from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Wagner, who has a background in social services, said he was perfectly comfortable in the neighborhood and plans to live in an apartment above the brewery.
“I never realized the city was trying to designate this area as an entertainment district,” Wagner said. “I’ve been here at all hours of the night and nothing really goes on, the people that utilize the center are just in need of a place to go during the day.”
Wagner said that traditionally breweries become anchors in neighborhoods.
“That’s what happened in Ybor,” he said. “I want people to know that I’m not a tavern. This is a place where people can come enjoy a beer before and after a game or start out their evening. If they’re looking to go out afterward, then they’ll make their way downtown.”
Little Giant Brewing Co. is currently located on Whitfield Avenue, but will be moving to it’s new location on 17th Avenue in January of 2012.
Merab is a writer at the Bradenton Times. She can be reached at email@example.com
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