On July 25, New Belgium Brewing Co. and Asheville officials unveiled transformative plans for the company’s site on Craven Street and the surrounding area, such as a new streetscape, greenway, bike lanes, sidewalks and entertainment pavilion.
The centerpiece will be New Belgium’s huge new brewing facility and distribution center, as well as a tasting room and beer garden. All told, the Colorado–based company is planning to invest $175 million into its new Asheville site, and company officials say they’ll hire about 150 workers. The production facility will have the capacity to brew 700,000 barrels of beer a year.
Currently, the 18-acre property has several buildings that have fallen in to disrepair. Part of the land is contaminated with heavy metals, qualifying it for the North Carolina’s “brownfields” program.
Over 250 people packed the U.S. Cellular Center Banquet Hall July 25, sipped New Belgium’s complimentary brews and learned more about its plans. Architects working for the company displayed draft designs that call for building a huge multilevel main production building on the property’s north side. Another, smaller, taproom would be located across a creek and towards the south end of the property — closer to Haywood Road’s intersection with Craven Street. That’s also where a public parking lot will be located, as well as a covered bike corral.
The plans also call for building a beer garden and entertainment pavilion, complete with an adjacent lawn that’s about the size of a soccer field, for concerts and other events.
According to the artist renderings shown at the meeting, most of the on-site buildings will have a modern, open feel, with lots of big windows and skylights — evoking the feel of greenhouses rather than industrial facilities. They’ll be built on banks designed to withstand possible flooding from the French Broad. The landscape designs aim to preserve and enhance the site’s natural beauty, with lots of open space and trees dotting the grounds.
In addition, the company is looking for ways to reuse storm water for irrigation and is working with the city to improve the water quality of the site’s creek. Planners said they’re hoping to reuse as much of the wood, metal and other materials from the existing buildings on the site as possible. There are also plans to use solar energy at the site and seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
Demolition is scheduled to begin this winter, and brewing will get going sometime in 2015, said officials. The company will begin posting job openings in 2014; eventually, it plans to hire about 150 people.
Meanwhile, as part of an incentive package to lure New Belgium to the site, the city agreed to make a number of improvements to the area’s streets. The Craven / Emma / Hazel Mill intersection will be turned in to a 4-way stop. The Craven / Haywood intersection will be altered to make room for increased truck traffic.
The main trucking route in and out of the facility will be along Haywood Road up through its intersection with I-240, which is also going to be changed to make it easier for trucks to make turns.
Craven Street will get a “complete streets” makeover, with new sidewalks and bike lanes framing both sides of it, said officials. A new public parking lot and river access is planned near the intersection of Craven Street and Emma Road. A greenway along the river on New Belgium’s property will be managed by the Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Department.
For the most part, attendees at the presentation applauded the plans, but some concerns were also voiced about increased traffic and noise coming to the neighborhood. Executives insisted that they’re taking steps to insure that such disturbances will be minimal.
Asked by an attendee if New Belgium really had the money to make all of it’s plans a reality, company CEO Kim Jordan, joked: “You’re think you’re nervous about that? You should be in my head.”
However, in all seriousness, she assured the crowd that the company means to bring its plans to fruition.
“We are fiscally very conservative,” she maintained, noting that the business she co-founded wants to help bring “a kind of energy that adds to the community.”
“My coworkers are nothing if not committed to being loving and excellent at what they do,” Jordan added.
Later, City Council member Marc Hunt took the mic to thank Jordan and other executives for the investment their making in Asheville.
“I hope it’s not lost on this crowd tonight the commitment New Belgium is making to this community,” he said. “We’re talking about a really unique, special corporate partner here…. To brew beer, you don’t need to do all this. … This company has chosen to spend a lot more money then they needed to.”
Watch video of Kim Jordan, New Belgium CEO, speaking at the event:
UPDATE: Here are the live dispatches via Twitter from Mountain Xpress reporters Jake Frankel and David Forbes, and such local beer enthusiasts as Anne Fitten-Glenn (@Brewgasm) and Win Bassett.
3:21 p.m. JakeFrankel: Then I’m off to cover @newbelgium’s unveiling of its designs for the new AVL brewery http://t.co/M6xEvp7D
5:03 p.m. Brewgasm: Guess I’m gonna bike down to the @newbelgium design presentation and see what the plan is. Hope they have a Shift waiting.
5:27 p.m. JakeFrankel: The beer is flowing here at the @newbelgium design presentation. Excellent selection of yummy snacks too! http://t.co/FEqIeAY2
5:33 p.m. JakeFrankel: Over 200 people here. Standing room only as presentation gets ready to start. Lots of excitement about @newbelgium coming to town.
5:39 p.m. Brewgasm: Standing room only at @newbelgium design presentation. Bringing in more chairs.
5:42 p.m. JakeFrankel: Beer will start being produced at the AVL @newbelgium facility in early 2015.
5:42 p.m. Brewgasm: CEO Kim Jordan very humbled and gratified and a little nervous. #newbelgium
5:42 p.m. JakeFrankel: Kim Jordan, @newbelgium CEO, says the company wants to bring “magic” to the Asheville community.
5:44 p.m. Brewgasm: There will be locally brewed @newbelgium by 1st quarter 2015. 3”
5:45 p.m. JakeFrankel: Architect shows drafts of @newbelgium facility; tasting room will b in seperate building on river, South, towards Haywood rd
5:46 p.m. Brewgasm: Calling the taproom, “the liquid center” at new #newbelgium building. That’s what I call my fridge!
5:47 p.m. winbassett: RT @Brewgasm: There will be locally brewed @newbelgium by 1st quarter 2015. 3”
5:50 p.m. JakeFrankel: Crowd applauds when @newbelgium architect says design calls for leaving as many trees as possible on site.
5:50 p.m. JakeFrankel: The @newbelgium design breaks down the scale of building to make it fit the community by dividing it w/ “elevations” (sections)
5:52 p.m. JakeFrankel: Designs show buildings with lots of light, windows. Many have the feel of greenhouses.
5:54 p.m. Brewgasm: Deconsrructing existing buildings and hoping to reuse some materials in new construction. #newbelgium
5:55 p.m. JakeFrankel: Architect says @newbelgium will reuse as much wood, metal, other materials from the current buildings on the site as possible.
5:58 p.m. JakeFrankel: Lanscape architect says @newbelgium is looking for ways to reuse storm water for irrigation on site
6:00 p.m. JakeFrankel: An open beergarden is likely to be on the @newbelgium site near river. Visitor parking will accesible near Haywood.
6:01 p.m. Brewgasm: Raise your hand if you’d like @timothypeck to stop being a jerk.
6:02 p.m. JakeFrankel: The @newbelgium plan calls for a pavilion and lawn for concerts, other entertainment events.
6:03 p.m. Brewgasm: Gosh, @timmoffit, I guess I should include your humble contributions in my book.
6:05 p.m. JakeFrankel: Paul Mills, landscape architect, says: the brewhouse is the “cathedral” on the site, “where the beer gets made”
6:06 p.m. JakeFrankel: City manager Gary Jackson: These are great people to work with. It just blows me away. @newbelgium
6:07 p.m. JakeFrankel: Yup RT @AshevilleonBike: @JakeFrankel: @newbelgium will provide covered bike parking! #avlbike #avlstreets
6:11 p.m. JakeFrankel: Jackson says bike lanes, greenways, sidewalks, river access all coming to the Craven St. area. Crowd applauds.
6:13 p.m. JakeFrankel: Engineer: The project will be a “complete streets” design. More applause.
6:15 p.m. JakeFrankel: The Craven / Emma / Hazel Mill intersection will be turned in to a 4 way stop. Craven will have bike lanes on both sides.
6:17 p.m. JakeFrankel: Eventually, greenway on @newbelgium site will connect to other greenways extending to Carrier Park along river
6:18 p.m. JakeFrankel: Steep side slopes along river are a challenge to building greenway, they’ll have to be stabilized, says engineer
6:22 p.m. JakeFrankel: A big water quality restoration effort is on tap for a small stream that flows down through west AVL to site along Waynesville Rd
6:24 p.m. Brewgasm: Alright @jakefrankel, take it away. I gotta run. #newbelgium
6:25 p.m. JakeFrankel: City will build public parking lot and river access point on its property between access of Emma Rd and Craven St
6:29 p.m. JakeFrankel: New greenways will be open dawn till dusk like other Parks & Rec greenways
6:33 p.m. JakeFrankel: Now time for public Q&A. Jenn Vervier from @NewBelgium tells concerned resident that negative impact of beer production minimal
6:34 p.m. JakeFrankel: The @newbelgium event lawn will be about the size of a soccer field. #avlent
6:38 p.m. JakeFrankel: Bike lanes aren’t coming to Haywood Rd in West AVL anytime soon, says official. NCDOT has jurisdiction over that. #avlbike
6:40 p.m. JakeFrankel: Vervier from @newbelgium: There will be more public meetings in the fall when plans get closer to being finalized
6:41 p.m. fobes: RT @AvilleDowntown Kim Jordan,CEO of @newbelgium, addressing a PACKED USCellular Ctr to unveil plans http://t.co/iyY8l6Di
6:41 p.m. JakeFrankel: Vervier from @newbelgium: The Fort Collins CO brewery attracts about 100K tourists a year. Not sure what the # will be in AVL.
6:45 p.m. DavidForbes: RT @JakeFrankel: Kim Jordan from @newbelgium: The first job postings for the AVL facility will be in 2014.
6:45 p.m. JakeFrankel: Kim Jordan from @newbelgium: The first job postings for the AVL facility will be in 2014.
6:46 p.m. JakeFrankel: Jordan: @newbelgium wants to have a close relationship with local brewers. We had lunch with Tim Schaller today (head of ABA)
6:46 p.m. Brewgasm: RT @JakeFrankel: Kim Jordan from @newbelgium: The first job postings for the AVL facility will be in 2014.
6:49 p.m. JakeFrankel: Looks like @newbelgium has started serving beer again out in the lobby. Attendees are starting to filter out towards it.
6:51 p.m. JakeFrankel: In Fort Collins, @newbelgium has bike-in movie nights throughout summer. Might do something similar here, says Vervier.
6:58 p.m. JakeFrankel: Resident asks Jordan if company really has money to pay for all of this. “we don’t want to get stuck holding the hops” he says.
6:59 p.m. JakeFrankel: Jordan from @newbelgium: Can we put up? We will put up… We are fiscally very conservative.
7:00 p.m. JakeFrankel: Jordan from @newbelgium: In 2012, we’ll have $150 million in revenue. We’ve spent a lot of time talking with our bankers.
7:03 p.m. JakeFrankel: Jordan from @newbelgium: We’ll make mistakes but work to fix them when we make them. Event ends w/ folks streaming 4 the line