Breckenridge Brewery’s announcement that it plans to relocate its Denver brewery to Littleton has city officials excited, to put it mildly.
“I’m buying the first round!” City Manager Michael Penny said.
Breckenridge is the fifth-largest brewer based in Colorado and growing. For the third straight year, it posted more than 20 percent growth, with 2012 results reaching 30 percent – stretching the limits of its current space at 471 Kalamath in Denver.
“Once we were aware that they were interested, we spent a lot of time just talking to them about the direction the city was going, explaining about all the work we’ve done, showing them the city council goals, talking about the comprehensive plan update and generally just conveying all the excitement and enthusiasm for the future,” Penny said. “It’s what they want to be part of. They also really liked the location.”
Assuming all goes as planned, Breckenridge will break ground on a$20 million project this fall near the South Platte River. It is expected to open in the fall of 2014 on 12 acres north of Aspen Grove and south of Hudson Gardens, adjacent to Reynolds Landing – exponentially increasing the river corridor’s cool factor, says Penny.
“With the vitality of Main Street and the powerhouse of Aspen Grove, the addition of Breckenridge Brewery will shift Littleton toward a local destination driver,” he said. “Having a brewery, along with the other amenities we have, will begin to turn Front Range heads south, and have people saying, ‘You know what, instead, I’d rather go to Littleton’. … it’s a status statement which helps define the future of Littleton.”
The Feb. 1 announcement came on the heels of one made by Alamo Drafthouse, Aspen Grove’s new movie theater, which firmed up its grand opening date to March 25.
Steve Kurowski, marketing director for the Colorado Brewers Guild, says the brewery’s relocation will expand the beer-tourism movement that is steadily growing in Denver and Boulder.
“Colorado's Front Range craft-beer community continues to attract attention on local, national and international levels,” Kurowski said in Breckenridge’s news release announcing the project. “Craft beer in Colorado is beyond trendy, it’s a legitimate economic engine that keeps growing and creating jobs. Most importantly, it is respectful to its neighbors."
Glen Van Nimwegen, the city’s director of community development, said neighborhood meetings held to gauge public opinion went well. Because a rezone is required, public hearings will be held before the planning board, tentatively set for Feb. 25, and city council, likely on March 5 and March 19. They’re requesting a planned-development overlay, which will restrict some of the allowed uses in the light-industrial district. After that will be building plan review, permit issuance and construction, said Van Nimwegen.
Designed to complement the rural feel of the river corridor, plans include several rustic buildings, a hops field in the foreground, farmhouse restaurant, general store and a sunny beer garden.
“We asked Breckenridge to really think about the river as they get further along in their design plans, and be the first development to really acknowledge that they have a great resource to the immediate west of them,” Penny said.
The brewery will boast an energy-recovery system, solar lighting and water-reclamation processes, among other green features.
“Protection of the river corridor is extremely important, and precautions are being taken to cleanse any storm water that may leave the site,” said Van Nimwegen. “The brewing process itself is a natural process and does not require robust environmental systems.
The facility will bring 60 to 75 jobs to Littleton, with about 25 of those being new positions, said company spokesman Todd Thibault. It will contribute sales taxes to the city coffers from restaurant sales and the general store, but it’s largely an industrial development that manufactures craft beers and sells them wholesale across the country. In 2012, it produced 52,000 barrels of beer, ranging from its popular Vanilla Porter to its seasonal Christmas Ale. The new facility will allow for production to increase to more than 120,000 barrels.
“Our brewery was born and raised in Colorado,” said Todd Usry, brewmaster and director of brewing. “We have our Colorado mountain home [in Breckenridge], and soon, a Colorado country spread along the river. Our Denver brewing operations opened in 1992, so it’s tough to leave Denver, but we'll still have our two thriving restaurants there.”