In a meeting that lasted just a few minutes, the Richmond City Council introduced legislation Tuesday intended to smooth the way for a major craft brewery eyeing Richmond as a location for its East Coast facility.
The sheer volume of beer that California-based Stone Brewing Co. wants to produce at the prospective facility requires the city to make an exception to its light industrial zoning rules, which limit beer production to 100,000 barrels per year.
The brewery intends to produce 120,000 barrels per year to start, and production could eventually grow to 500,000 barrels. Stone plans to announce the winning city in the next 30 to 60 days.
The city is working to prepare about 12½ acres of mostly publicly owned land past Fulton Gas Works east of downtown. The bulk of the land is owned by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
According to the council legislation introduced Tuesday, the brewery would invest up to $47 million in the operation during the first five years, all of which would be taxable by the city.
The brewing, packaging and distribution operations would be located in a facility of at least 130,000 square feet, which could expand to 220,000 square feet. The facility could employ as many as 103 full-time workers at the onset.
The council also introduced a resolution authorizing the Richmond Economic Development Authority to use about $250,000 to “advance economic development initiatives” in the city. Several City Hall sources have said the resolution is intended to give the authority money to spend to help land the brewery.
The money would come from a previous program related to the Tobacco Row renovation, specifically a parking facility that the development authority leases to the Tobacco Row developer for $22,000 per year.
The council did not discuss the legislation, and there was no presentation from the city’s economic development staff. Only five of nine council members attended the meeting, or just enough for a quorum.
The council did not even have copies of the ordinances at the meeting, but they were provided by the clerk’s office midmorning.
Stone Brewing is not confirming which cities are in the final running for its new facility, but the options appear to have been narrowed down to Richmond, Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio. Roanoke was just recently removed from consideration.
The brewery is not identified by name in the permit applications. In the documents, the effort to land Stone is described as “Project Gogi.”
Though Tuesday’s meeting may have helped signal the city’s commitment to the brewery project, the legislation won’t be approved until next month at the earliest.
The papers are scheduled to go to the Planning Commission on Sept. 2. The full council will take them up on Sept. 8.