Surly taproom gets planning commission approval

Surly’s $20 million Prospect Park brewery was approved Monday.

by Nicolas Hallett

Surly Brewing Co. is one step closer to building a large brewery and taproom in Prospect Park.

The Minneapolis City Planning Commission unanimously approved the Brooklyn Center-based brewery’s new project Monday after debating the details for more than an hour. There were numerous points of contention that ultimately proved to be minor details in a project that all parties wanted to see

“It’s going to be an exciting year. It’s going to happen fast,” said Steven Dwyer, architect of the project. The $20 million, 50,000-square-foot development, which many have called a “destination brewery,” will include a restaurant, beer garden, bar, rooftop terrace and event center.

Tom Hauschild, a partner with the project’s management firm, said he expects construction to start Jan. 1. The brewery is planned to open in late 2014.

The commission and Surly were divided on many citizen-based issues, including parking, bicycle traffic, sidewalk space, environmental concerns and a fence.

“The things we were talking about were relatively small things in the big picture,” Dwyer said. “It was a healthy debate. We expected there would be some difficult questions asked.”

Planning commission member Alissa Luepke-Pier said during the meeting that the city is already giving Surly many “breaks” to build, and its further request for modifications was excessive.

City Planner Becca Farrar-Hughes said at the meeting that approval of the Surly project would likely spur additional development for the area.

The Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development gave grants totaling $2 million to the clean-up effort for the area, which is rife with industrial pollution.

Hauschild said the companies involved with designing the taproom are working with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to ready the site for development.

“This particular area of Minneapolis has had more than a century of industrial use,” he said. “This site is severely environmentally challenged as a result.”

A number of breweries and taprooms have been popping up around the state since Gov. Mark Dayton signed what came to be known as the “Surly bill” into law in 2011.

The law altered the previous “three-tier” regulation, which separated alcohol manufacturers, distributors and retailers, allowing brewers to sell onsite.