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Brewery and 'Walkable' Businesses Proposed in Pennsport

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[Renderings via FUSA Designs, Photos: James Jennings]

Remember how we brought you the news that a brewery could be on its way to the corner of Moyamensing Avenue and Moore Street in Pennsport? Well, the people behind that proposal — mainly Sean Mellody of Mellody Brewing, architect Alex Duller of FUSA Designs and leasing agent Brandon Fox from MSCmet with the community of Pennsport last night to discuss their plan for what they envision as a small business complex that services the nearby community. If all goes according to plan, Seven separate businesses would contained within the oddly shaped warehouse that actually envelopes four houses that are not apart of this project. The large building is currently zoned residential, even though it's always been used in an industrial capacity, and the plans are contingent upon variances that would grant it commercial, mixed zoning (CMX-2). So far, if all goes according to plan, the timeline for starting the project is Spring 2015. Let's take a deeper look, shall we? Let's break it down into sections to better understand the plan and some of the main concerns brought up at the meeting.

The Plan: Take a vacant warehouse and turn it into a small business complex that mainly services the local community — think: "usable spaces" for the neighborhood. The building, which is currently one huge wall of stucco, would be designed to look like seven separate businesses to breathe some life into the corner. So far, Mellody Brewing is the only tenant to come on board. However, Alex Duller mentioned that there is "serious" interest from multiple local business owners contingent upon the re-zoning of the property, which makes sense. Brandon Fox mentioned that the "crucial corner" of Moyamensing Avenue and Moore Street was of particular interest to multiple coffee shop owners. They are also in serious talks with a yoga studio, which would front Moore Street and utilize the second floor as well as a local grocer specializing in specialty produce, meats and prepared foods. Possibilities for the other spaces included a doctors/dentist office, small sit down restaurant, ice cream parlor and a dry cleaners.

The Brewery: Sean Mellody thoroughly explained his goals and plans for the seven barrel brewery (think Nodding Head or Iron Hill) space that would front Moyamensing Avenue. Currently a resident of Queen Village, his hope is to have the Pennsport location as the Brewery's home base for many years, even if expansion is in the cards down the road. Mellody's main focus will be distribution of his suds to local restaurants and beer distributors, with on-site sales for those who wish to dabble in the various styles of craft beer he'll have to offer. The "tasting room" would have limited hours (4pm to 7pm) throughout the week and mainly serve as a vehicle for growler and take out service. "I don't want to be in the business of running a bar ... I want the brewery to be apart of the neighborhood," he said. As for the process and concerns over the smell, he mentioned it would be similar to living next to a bakery and brewing would only happen once or twice a week during the day at about three hours per batch. Spent grain would be taken away by local farmers to give to livestock.

The Parking: We're not going to lie, the meeting got a little testy at times — particularly when parking took center stage. Residents were unimpressed that parking was not included in the plans. Some suggested leveling a portion of the building for a surface parking lot for the complex. "I just don't think the neighborhood can support this kind of volume," noted one resident, who also cited cars are now being towed from the permit parking lot across the street at the Pennsport Mall. "Parking is a city-wide issue," mentioned Duller. The idea is create a locally focused complex of businesses that service smaller amounts of people throughout the day. In doing so, the hope is that it would alleviate the impact on parking for nearby neighbors. "We're not trying to throw an IKEA in here that would require 500 cars per day," said Brandon Fox of MSC, the leasing agent behind the proposal. Residents simply weren't buying it, with some suggesting they look into developing the warehouse into housing — something that Duller mentioned they had not explored.

The Vision: A board member with the Pennsport Civic Association essentially rounded out the meeting with the notion that Moyamensing Avenue, with it's beautiful streetscapes and wide sidewalks, has been their focus for some time. The idea is to bring back the commercial vitality of the area, specifically to "The Avenue," to service all of the residents of the area that has seen an explosion of growth in the recent years.
· Could a Nano-Brewery Be On its Way to Pennsport Warehouse? [Curbed Philly]
· Pennsport Coverage [Curbed Philly]