A vacant downtown building is set to be transformed into a microbrewery and distillery.
That is after the Waupaca Common Council voted 9-0-1 on Oct. 21 to approve a special use permit for the property at 109 N. Main St., which is the former Edgewood Arts building.
The permit includes three conditions. They are:
• Any improvements to the building’s exterior must be approved by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. The building is located in a Historic District.
• A sign permit should be applied for and approved by city staff before construction or installation.
• The project should comply with state and local building and fire codes.
Ald. Paul Mayou abstained from the council’s vote, saying he did so because he owns a competing business.
Mayou is an owner of T-Dubs Public House in downtown Waupaca.
The request for the special use permit was from B & F Enterprises of Waupaca.
“The renovations have to be done first,” Robert Forseth told the council.
Forseth, who will be the owner of the business, said separate spaces or entities must be created for the brewery and the distillery before he may apply for the necessary state and federal permits.
That is because federal law prohibits a distillery from sharing the same room room with retail alcohol or a brewery.
Plans call for a distilling room to be created on the first floor of the building, with a separate space in the basement for fermenting and storage.
In addition to distilling, a federal and state permit also allows wine manufacturing through a distillery.
Wine manufacturing will be in the same space as distilling.
The brewery is to be established on the building’s first floor.
According to the special use permit narrative, while federal law prohibits a brewery and distillery from sharing the same continuous building, they are allowed to share a common wall and to transport fermented malt beverages between the two entities.
Under state law, brewery, distillery and winery permits include limited retail license rights and do not count against a municipality’s retail license limit.
B & F Enterprises of Waupaca plans to establish a bar on both the first and second floors of the building for retail sales.
The proposed hours for the business are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and Forseth hopes to open it next May.
Forseth said the intention is to not alter the exterior of the building.
Inside, renovations related to the building’s historic nature will include removing the drop ceiling on the first floor to allow for the repair of the original tin ceiling and removing the carpeting on the first floor so the original hardwood floors may be reconditioned.
Also under consideration is the removal of the sheet rock from the walls to remove the original brick walls.
The bathooms on both the first and second floors will be renovated. The utilities will also be modified.
The first floor bar is expected to host small crowds of people interested in observing the brewing and distilling process. Customers will be able to consumer beverages on site or purchase them from the first floor for off premise consumption.
Limited food sales will be available on the first floor.
The second floor already has a kitchen and large recreation room. The recreation room will be converted into a formal lounge and bar.
The bulk of production is expected to take place on Saturdays or Sundays, and the proposed operation will incorporate a ventilation system for the aromas – both inside and outside the building – that may occur during the brewing and frementing process.
Brennan Kane, the city’s development director, told the council that from a vibrancy perspective, he hopes the business brings additional traffic to North Main Street.