A brewing company has asked for more than $130,000 in tax dollars to bring a restaurant and beer brewing business to the east side of Franklin.
In the future, Hoosier Brewing Co. could ask for as much as $250,000 more to help pay for manufacturing and canning equipment.
But for now, the company’s plans are to bring a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, which would serve food and beer, to a recently remodeled shopping center off King Street near Interstate 65.
The decision of whether to expand and open an additional, larger brewery in Franklin is at least five years away and depends on the success of the manufacturing business.
Brian Nentrup of Fairland is closing his brewery in Shelby County and moving its five employees to Franklin, where they will also open a restaurant.
The Franklin Redevelopment Commission is working out the details with the brewer, and city officials say the deal is a good one for the city because it will start the redevelopment of East King Street, which will undergo major construction starting in late spring. The vacant strip mall is located on the south side of East King Street and previously housed a tanning salon and a bar.
And if the brewery ends up closing, the city would be protected by requiring Nentrup to either pay back the money or give the equipment back to the city, Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
Nentrup wanted a location with enough space for a tap room, restaurant and manufacturing space. The brewery has beer in about 80 restaurants and grocery stores throughout the state, and ships about 7,000 cans per week, Nentrup said.
When Nentrup was looking for potential space, his focus went to 157 Holiday Place, a strip mall that has been vacant for years. The strip mall had the space and accessibility to Interstate 65 that Nentrup was looking for, he said.
Last year, the Franklin Development Corp., which is funded with tax dollars, gave the owner of the strip mall $35,000 to update the façade, including repainting the exterior of the building and replacing the awning.
Owner Trent Petro also poured new asphalt in the parking lot and installed new light fixtures.
Now, city officials are finalizing an incentive package with Hoosier Brewing Co., including paying for infrastructure improvements and pieces of equipment for the manufacturing part of the business.
The redevelopment commission unanimously approved giving Nentrup $138,000 for infrastructure improvements, such as installing a new heating and air conditioning system, upgrading the flooring and electrical work for the restaurant.
City officials are still working on a formal incentive package, which would require Hoosier Brewing Co. to meet certain expectations, such as creating a certain number of jobs once they open. Nentrup is also asking for about $110,000 worth of manufacturing equipment from city organizations, such as the Franklin Development Corp.
Since the brewery makes and ships alcohol, it is not eligible for tax abatements. But McGuinness wants to hold the company to the same standard as other businesses that receive tax dollars, such as 84 Lumber, he said.
For example, Nentrup expects to add at least 35 jobs by the time the restaurant and tap room opens by the end of the year. The average salary for employees at the restaurant will be about $49,000, which includes a general manager, assistant manager, about 15 servers and about three brewers. Nentrup will also have to hire additional sales positions for the canned beer, Nentrup said.
Eventually, Nentrup hopes to open a second building in Franklin, which can handle a bigger production line for canned beer. Within five years, Nentrup wants the second manufacturing building up and running, and expects his work force to grow to about 100, he said.
Nentrup said he has to make sure the business is able to handle the transition from Shelbyville to Franklin before expanding with a bigger manufacturing space.
Bringing Hoosier Brewing Co. to Franklin will make the city more of a destination spot for visitors, McGuinness said.
Since other similar spots are in Johnson County, such as Taxman Brewing Company and Mallow Run Winery in Bargersville, visitors will be more likely to make an extra pit stop off I-65 to stop in the area, he said.
In addition, having a new business on the east side of the city will hopefully prompt new development along East King Street, such as hotels or other restaurants to improve the entrance into Franklin from I-65, McGuinness said.