Plans Coming Into Focus For Red Bell Brewery

1500 N. 31st St. is a roughly 200K sqft building that was once home to the F.A. Poth Brewery, one of the many breweries that resulted in the neighborhood being dubbed Brewerytown. The brewery closed its doors shortly after the end of Prohibition, but the building survived and was used for furniture and appliance storage. Red Bell Brewery took over the property in the 1990s and closed down in the early 2000s, with the building sitting vacant ever since. While the Poth Brewery stuck around for many more years, people still refer to the building as the Red Bell Brewery, probably because of recency bias.

View of the building

About a year and a half ago, we told you that the building had changed hands after quite a long time on the market. Though we didn’t know anything about the redevelopment plan at the time, we were still cheered by the news. With all the development exploding across the neighborhood, this didn’t feel like a speculative purchase, we figured redevelopment was likely on the horizon. We just hoped that the new owners would renovate the existing building, not demolish it and build something new.

Closer look

We had to wait awhile, but now we finally know that adaptive reuse is indeed the plan here. It seems @genbrewerytown attended the most recent community meeting, at which developer John Wei presented plans to create 147 apartments, ground floor retail, and between 75 and 80 underground parking spaces. The plan would also entail the acquisition of part of the Brewerytown Orchard, a garden space immediately to the north of the old brewery, to be used for parking for the commercial tenants. Community response was apparently mixed, specifically as it relates to the parking aspect of the plan. We weren’t at the meeting, but if 1:2 parking is what’s needed to make it possible to redevelop the building, then we’re all about it.

Project rendering

Figure the plan will evolve a little bit after some back and forth with the community, but it’s pretty safe to assume that some iteration of this project will come to fruition in the relatively near future. And don’t forget, that’s only part of the planned development for this immediate area. Immediately to the south, you might recall, we told you that Westrum was planning roughly 200 new units over three apartment buildings on a long vacant lot. Toss in a few more dozen units to the north in the mostly finished Pyramid Electric building, and the north western section of Brewerytown is poised for a complete transformation. The next few years should be an amazing sight to see.

  • James Goodwin

    This is a great plan to reuse an abandoned industrial building. Putting life inside the building by way of apartments will go a long way toward rejuvenating the neighborhood by attracting more investment. However, letting the RCO have power of what gets to be built and what does not get to be built will end up deep sixing the project and the investors who bought will leave it abandoned or sell it to someone who will add it to their portfolio. Thus, other investors looking from outside the fence will conclude that is not worth it to invest in the neighborhood.
    The power of RCOs must be restricted by law. Allowing good feedback is good, but giving them the right to veto projects is not so good at all. The city needs every tax ratable it can get. Perhaps having a city appointed mediator to manage all RCO meetings will help meetings to stay on track, and for people to stay on the point instead devolving into disagreements that will tear up the proposal to build. A well managed RCO meeting has the potential of reaping dividends for the community with investment flowing into the neighborhood.
    It is time for this project to go shovel ready.

    • Vieux Pays

      Ah dude, the RCOs do not have any actual power. The decision rests with the ZBA which must rule on the basis of hardship.