Richmond is one of the final cities under consideration by California-based Stone Brewing Co. for its first East Coast operation, a highly coveted project that has drawn interest from cities in several states.
Buzz has circulated for months about Richmond possibly landing the brewery, but the city is taking action this week in hopes of sealing the deal.
The Richmond City Council has called a special meeting today regarding permits for publicly owned land near the James River between downtown and Rocketts Landing, and several City Hall sources said the measures were being brought forward to clear a path for the Stone Brewing project.
The council typically takes August off and had canceled all its meetings for the month.
Stone, which is based in San Diego, is among the 10 largest craft breweries in the United States and has been named to several annual lists of fastest-growing private companies since its founding in 1996.
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Last month, the company announced that it was opening a facility in Berlin, saying it will be the first American-owned brewery in Europe.
The company has gone public with a request for proposals for a facility east of the Mississippi River that could serve as a full-production brewery and distribution center for the eastern United States.
The company anticipates spending at least $20 million for the facility’s initial phase and expects to create hundreds of jobs, according to the company.
Production is projected to top 120,000 barrels per year at the onset, and could grow to nearly 500,000. The facility is also expected to include restaurant and retail areas modeled after the company’s existing Stone World Bistro & Gardens locations.
Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio, are also among the finalists being considered, according to media reports from those areas, and Roanoke was just recently dropped from consideration. A company spokeswoman would not confirm what locations were still in the running.
Virginia’s roughly 65 craft breweries produced 129,000 barrels of beer in 2013, which means Stone would basically double the state’s production by itself.
The owners of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery have said they’re on pace to produce about 9,000 barrels this year, or twice as much as 2013.
Today, several ordinances will be introduced to grant special-use permits for about 12½ acres bounded by Williamsburg Avenue and Nicholson Street, across from Gillies Creek Park.
Most of the land is vacant and owned by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, according to city property records. A small parcel on Nicholson is owned by Titan Virginia Ready Mix, a concrete company.
The notice for today’s meeting also says the council will consider a resolution authorizing the use of funds by the Richmond Economic Development Authority. City sources said the resolution is meant to free up the entity to spend money to finalize the project.
Jacob Geiger contributed to this report.
Stone Brewing Co.
Founded: 1996 by Greg Koch and Steve Wagner
Based: Escondido, Calif.
Distribution: 41 states (plus Washington and Puerto Rico) and small amounts to Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, United Kingdom and Sweden
Operations: two Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens restaurants, six Stone Company Stores, Stone Farms, Stone Brewing Tap Room, Stone Brewing Co. in Petco Park in San Diego and Stone Brewing Co. at Terminal 2 in San Diego International Airport.
Notables: 10th-largest craft brewery in the U.S. as of last year; named last year to the “Inc. 500 | 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies” for the ninth year in a row
Some of the United States' largest craft breweries are setting up shop in Europe, challenging the very beers that inspired the U.S. craft-brewing movement.
One particular beer style has drawn some pretty strong reactions over the years.
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