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This article was published 16/5/2019 (382 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A project to bring a brewery to Brandon is almost ready to start making beer, the team behind it just need to find a place to build it.
Benjamin Loewen, the entrepreneur behind the push, said he was "disappointed" not to have his proposal chosen by the city to develop 1201 Pacific Ave., but is looking elsewhere for space to bring his vision for craft beer to the Wheat City.
"We’re working on it and … It was a disappointment that the downtown didn’t work out, but it is what it is."
JWJ Enterprises Ltd/Little Brother Brewing Co. submitted a plan to bring a brewery to the downtown piece of land the City of Brandon put up for development. Robyn Sneath/Bowerbird Holdings Ltd., the only other group that submitted a proposal, was selected by the city council at a closed-door April 15 meeting to build their vision on the property, which according to minutes of the meeting is for an "indoor adventure park."
During the meeting, Coun. Glen Parker (Riverview), who is also The Brandon Sun’s sales and marketing director, put forward a motion to cancel the sale of the land based on the low price the Bowerbird Holdings group put up for the portion of the lot — $21,000 for around half the piece of land. While the property is set to be subdivided and the city will retain control over approximately half of it, the entire plot was valued at more than $500,000.
Loewen couldn’t say exactly how much his proposal offered for the land, but said it was "substantially more" than what the winning proponent bid. He said he is happy the other group got it for a good deal, which he described as "a steal."
Loewen is still confident that his brewery will open in Brandon, it is just a question of where in the city it will be built.
"Downtown is a place where we try and push everything and generate more community and there’s stuff going on down there already that we were hoping to add to. I have a feeling that we’re not going to be downtown, but I could be wrong."
Despite not winning the RFP process, Loewen said he still has confidence in the system the city used to tender the development.
"I have faith that the city system works and that the best proposal won. I mean, I don’t know the process they go through to decide. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but it is what it is. You play your cards right and you win in the system."
One of the reasons could be the city’s focus on bringing entertainment and nightlife to downtown. While the proposal for the adventure park would be purely entertainment, Loewen said his brewery would have also incorporated manufacturing space to brew and package the beer.
For the moment, the brewery team is looking at other spaces outside of downtown. Loewen said they are "hungry for a building now" but have looked at every option in the downtown.
"Government is government and you work within that, but if you look at it back through the whole process, it is pretty unbelievable from a job creation, economic growth (perspective), I mean there’s a lot of pieces there that are very beneficial.
"(A brewery doesn’t) necessarily have to be anywhere in particular in the city. They could be anywhere. It’s more a destination type thing."
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