Lebanon planners say they’re encouraged by a local developer’s plan to turn a former downtown factory into a microbrewery and event center.
Nate Alexander and others working for his family presented a phased plan beginning with renovation over the next two years of two floors of the old shoe factory. He projected beginning construction costs at $2.5 million and said the total project when completed could cost $12 million.
“I love the concept,” Lebanon Mayor Amy Brewer said during a special work session on Tuesday.
Brewer and other commission members urged Alexander and staffers to work with the city’s planner, Meredith Snyder, while also meeting building approvals from Warren County.
“Do your homework,” Brewer said.
Alexander said the family plans to begin with The Shoe microbrewery on the ground floor and an event space on the second floor of the three-story factory at 120 E. South St. in Lebanon.
“This is a huge endeavor,” said Alexander, whose family owns dozens of rental properties in Lebanon and operates a recruiting company to help staff a growing list of retail stores, including Rose & Remington.
“We want to make sure we don’t bite off too much. Sometimes you can be too big too quick.”
The development plans include a large deck and new stairwells on the building on the southeast corner of South and Mechanic streets.
Across South Street, the city’s multi-use trail currently ends near parks and sports fields. The historic downtown business district is a short walk to the north.
Although a taproom and microbrewery would be developed on the ground floor, “We’re not trying to do a bar concept,” Alexander said.
Wedding and Christmas parties are the types of events that could be held on the building’s second floor, he said.
After some six years, the building could house fine dining and a business incubator, and feature Wednesday night movie nights for families and annual festivities, he said. Rooftop development is no longer in the immediate plans.
The family plans to add valet service and an “escort van,” during the next phase.
In the short term, Alexander said food trucks would provide meal options for visitors.
“Our family’s philosophy is get it open, make something great, then grow on that,” he said. “Our goal is to just keep reinvesting every dollar.”
Alexander pointed to Sonder Brewing, a new microbrewery in Mason, and Sierra Nevada, a California-based microbrewery, as examples of the type of business he envisioned in the old factory.
Warren County is moving ahead with plans for an event center on the fairgrounds, just north of downtown Lebanon. An event center also operates out of the city’s old post office, across Broadway from the old factory.
Brewer said she likes the family’s idea of doing the development “in stages.” Some residents have suggested studio apartments be built in the former factory.
“It’s a fabulous space,” she said. “I have no doubt when you get going it’ll be a showplace for the city.”
The developers hope to have final drawings by March and begin demolition by May.
Demolition is expected to take three to four months, and construction 14 to 18 months, Alexander said.
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