Photo of Jay Richardson by Caitlin Byrd
New Belgium is delaying construction at its new Asheville brewery, but the overall scope of the project remains the same.
The timeline will be moved back about eight months, with building now scheduled to start in March of 2014, according to Jay Richardson, general manager of New Belgium’s local facility. The adjusted schedule is a result of higher-than-expected capacity coming online at the brewery’s mother site in Fort Collins, Colo., this year, Richardson explains.
The company is employee-owned, and “there were starting to be questions in the hallway,” he reports, with colleagues asking, “‘Well, now that we don’t need the capacity so soon, are we going to keep building?’”
With 70,000 barrels of capacity recently added, the Fort Collins brewery can produce up to 920,000 barrels a year, which will take New Belgium through 2015 sales projections, notes Richardson.
The company plans to add to its production capacity significantly when it’s River Arts District plant comes online: The new brewery is estimated to be able to produce 400,000 barrels a year. Once it begins, the construction phase will take about 22 months as originally projected, says Richardson. Plans continue to call for the company to invest $175 million into the facility, hiring 150 local workers. The delay will also give the company more time to refine architectural designs, Richardson notes.
Meanwhile, deconstruction at the Craven Street site is scheduled to be complete in the next few weeks. Despite an April fire that destroyed two buildings on the property, Richardson says the company was able to salvage more wood, concrete, metal and other materials than originally expected. For the time being, those materials will be stored until they can be reused in the new building, he reports. The fire didn’t contribute to the construction delay, he says.
As part of its incentive deal to the company, the city of Asheville will continue to make infrastructure improvements to the area surrounding the site, completely renovating Craven Street and building new bike lanes, sidewalks and a greenway.
With construction at the New Belgium property paused, Richardson says the company will allow the city to use its site as needed to complete the transit work.
“There’s going to be quite a bit of dirt work and disruption. It looks like the city will be able to use our property as a detour route and to stage all their equipment,” he explains. “Early indications from the city are it will help them be more efficient with their work if we’re not in their way, so to speak.”
The company will finalize its plans with the city and its new construction timeline next month, says Richardson.
Emily Patrick contributed to this article.