WEDC awards $109,877 grant to support plans to convert former warehouse into city’s first brewery in 50 years
SUPERIOR, WI. June 27, 2017 – The City of Superior has received a $109,877 state grant to help redevelop an old beer distribution warehouse into a new craft brewery – a project expected to spur further development downtown.
The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be used to renovate the former Leamon Mercantile warehouse on Superior’s North End to the 16,000-square-foot Earth Rider Brewery.
The redevelopment is the second phase of a plan to create a $2.5 million campus in the North Tower Avenue area that would include the brewery and office/retail space in one building, and a beer tasting room in a second building.
An open green space area between the two buildings could be used for large events, local food truck operators and other purposes that will boost downtown. The first phase of the project, the restoration of the Cedar Lounge, which will become the tasting room, was completed in 2016.
“This redevelopment project has the potential to be a true catalyst for downtown Superior that should boost other businesses in the area, and create jobs and spur additional development,” said Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who was in Superior Tuesday to make the grant announcement. “Having a vibrant downtown with amenities like this also will help area employers attract and retain millennials, which is vital to meeting the workforce needs of today and tomorrow.”
“A working waterfront and a wide array of unique experiences define Superior. We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Earth Rider Brewing. Live music and craft beer in the beating heart of one of the world’s greatest ports is an experience that only Superior can offer. I look forward to toasting their success,” said Mayor Jim Paine.
Once the redevelopment is completed in August, Earth Rider will be Superior’s only brewery, and its first since Northern Brewing Co. closed its doors in 1967.The brewery is adjacent to Superior’s popular restaurants and bars on North Third Street.
The project is being developed by well-known craft brewer Tim Nelson and his company, Bev-Craft. Earth Rider Brewing Co. will service the Twin Ports and the South and North Shores of Lake Superior.
Nelson said the Twin Ports have numerous benefits for brewers, including a strong workforce, pristine Lake Superior water, and a growing number of craft beer drinkers.
“Superior is at the head of the Great Lakes. The water starts here,” he said. “We have the best brewing water on the planet, with outstanding brewers to match.”
WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. Awards are based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.
“This project is an example of the many ways in which WEDC works with communities throughout Wisconsin to revitalize their business districts,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “These community development programs are crucial because a vibrant downtown is a major factor in a community’s overall economic vitality.”
Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded $12.5 million in Community Development Investment Grants for projects expected to generate more than $248 million in capital investments statewide.
Local officials applauded the progress being made on the redevelopment and said it will provide an economic boost to the city.
“I’m thrilled to see Earth Riding Brewery adding to the wave of craft breweries spreading across the state,” said state Sen. Janet Bewley, who attended Tuesday’s event. “It’s another reminder of Wisconsin’s rich brewing heritage and an important step forward for the city of Superior.”
Added state Rep. Nick Milroy: “Tim Nelson was instrumental in transforming the image and culture of Duluth with his entrepreneurship. We are fortunate that he is now investing in Superior. He has already put together a great team at Earth Rider Brewery. This investment will be a catalyst for the continued renaissance of downtown Superior.”
“This project is another example of economic diversification important to redevelopment of Superior’s downtown and can be a resource for other communities throughout northwest Wisconsin to expand their economic development offerings,” said Sheldon Johnson, executive director of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission.