A downtown Greenwood brewer is planning to spend more than $600,000 on an expansion and renovation, adding to an area the city is targeting for redevelopment.
Planetary Brewing wants to connect two buildings, allowing them room to expand and have space to host events, such as concerts. The project, which is partially being funded with a $100,000 city grant, also will redevelop a building that city officials have described as an eyesore.
In 2016, Planetary Brewing opened a bar at 188 S. Madison Ave., about five years after its brewery started on Polk Street. Now, owners have told the city that they need additional room for the business.
The project fits with an overall plan to redevelop and grow downtown Greenwood, with the city planning to invest more than $20 million in road projects, buying buildings and grants for downtown buildings to make exterior renovations.
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Most recently, city officials are looking to buy the post office building on Main Street, at the Market Plaza intersection. Their goal is to eventually use the space to either make improvements to the intersection, such as adding a turn lane, or to build a parking lot.
The project by Planetary Brewing is important because it can draw people to the downtown area, city officials said.
Businesses such as Planetary Brewing are important to have in downtown Greenwood because they bring in regular foot traffic, which then helps other downtown businesses thrive as well, Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers said.
Their plan is to connect their current building with a vacant building at 170 S. Madison Ave. That building is currently vacant and valued at $13,500, with less than $300 of property taxes being paid on it last year. That number will be significantly higher once renovations are complete, Myers said.
“No matter how you look at it, the investment goes into the building, and the building will hold its value,” Myers said. “That value will always be there.”
The city’s grant to Planetary Brewing will only cover exterior renovations, which will include new windows covering the majority of the first-level storefronts, repairs to the brick and masonry exterior and installing a stucco wall in between the two buildings, Greenwood Capital Projects Manager Kevin Steinmetz said.
The new windows will allow pedestrians walking along Madison Avenue to get a look into the building and the brewing process, as some beers will be brewed on-site, Steinmetz said.
A timeline for the Planetary Brewing project isn’t set, but the owners will have three months to sign a contract with the city and then have one year to get the work completed, Steinmetz said.
Over the next year, the city is planning to build a new road and parking lot in the downtown area, and is now looking at ways to add more parking or make areas able to handle additional traffic. As part of those plans, the city is now looking to buy the downtown post office property, at 345 W. Main St. City officials had heard the building’s owner wanted to sell, and the redevelopment commission is considering buying the building for $330,000, which is the average of two appraisals.
The goal would be to use that site to make improvements to the Market Plaza and Main Street intersection or add another public parking lot. A vote on that purchase is set for the board’s March meeting.
The property currently has a private owner who leases the building to the U.S. Postal Service for $24,000 a year. That lease extends through the middle of 2019, and what will happen after it expires has not been officially determined, said Brent Tilson, the president of the redevelopment commission.
But the post office is an important part of downtown Greenwood, and the city’s goal would be to work with them to find another downtown location should the city end up using the current property for other purposes, Tilson said.
Before anything would be done with that property, the city is already planning work to add a connector road between Market Plaza and Surina Way, and add parking north of a church on Meridian Street.
Market Plaza will have an increase in traffic once the street is connected to Surina Way with a new, quarter-mile road planned to be constructed on land where the former Greenwood Middle School is located. The redevelopment commission approved construction of the connector road, as well as funding the city’s portion of a parking lot north of Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church that will be shared with the church. Those projects will cost about $3.7 million and be complete by the end of August.
The city also approved an additional $500,000 for its GROW program, which provides grants to businesses on Madison Avenue and Main Street to make improvements to their properties, with some of the new funding going toward the Planetary Brewing project.
The GROW program was established by the redevelopment commission in 2016 to assist downtown businesses in making exterior renovations, such as new siding, windows or landscaping. Of the $500,000 initially set aside for the program, about $436,000 had been approved for 20 properties.
The grants have worked exactly as the city intended by encouraging businesses owners to make investments in their properties, and the city will benefit from additional property taxes, Tilson said.