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Jun 28

The Future Home Of Beer

Comments (0) 12:00 AM posted by admin |

I had the opportunity to attend the meet and greet hosted by the Greffs this past Saturday down at what used to be the drafting building for the Motor Wheel property at Norris and East Forest. Let me be the first to say that I am excited by their vision and the seemingly endless possibilities for the space. I don’t say this because they had free beer and hors d’oeuvres, but any time you are trying to win the favor of the locals and earn their support, free beer is a great place to start.

As you know, the Greffs are long-time Ypsilanti residents and owners of Arbor Brewing. Due to the complicated nature of liquor licenses, the Greffs have a brew pub licesnse instead of a distributors license. The basic difference is the Greffs can have a full bar at their place and can serve cocktails as well as their own beer, but they cannot distribute their product and you won’t find it in stores. They would like to be able to package their beer for sale and are looking to turn the Motor Wheel property into a brewery slash sandwich shop slash beer garden.

The building is around 9200 square feet. They envision using most of that for the brewing operations, with the rest devoted to the sandwich shop that seats one hundred. They will serve a few panini-type sandwiches, but the idea is to be able to go into the place and buy a six-pack or case or keg. During the summer months, they hope to turn the area behind the building into a beer garden that seats two hundred.

They signed an option to buy the building and have until December to commit or walk away. In order to commit, the place will have to be rezoned from M-2 (light and heavy manufacturing) to C-2 (neighborhood commercial). They will also need a variance for being less than 500 feet from a church. Finally, they will have to sweet-talk Ypsilanti City Planner Nathan Voght into allowing them to open without spending a million bucks on islands in the parking lot and landscaping. We all know how the City loves to make it difficult for individuals wanting to invest money here. It’s for this reason I put the odds of this happening at fifty-fifty. This could really build some synergy along that stretch of property. I honestly believe if they opened there, it would only help the guys at Ypsilanti Brewing. But we’ll have to wait and see.

The Greffs said all the right things. I probably asked too many questions, but they were more than willing to answer them. I did ask them if they would open a business in Ypsilanti with the words Ann Arbor in the title and they assured me they would not. Good answer. There are noise and alley issues to solve, but everything should be pretty easy to solve.

If you want to help make this happen, I’d encourage you to contact your City Council Member and let them know how important beer is to you. I was told there are three vacancies on the Planning Commission, so it might be wise to try and get appointed so you can help with the rezoning. Whatever the case, people investing in Ypsilanti are okay in my book. Especially when they ply me with free beer.

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