Detroit-based brewery considers expanding in Wilmington - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Detroit-based brewery considers expanding in Wilmington

Wilmington is still in the running for a Atwater Brewing Company facility that would employ at least 30 full-time workers. Wilmington is still in the running for a Atwater Brewing Company facility that would employ at least 30 full-time workers.

A consultant representing Detroit-based Atwater Brewery says the company is still considering building a facility in Wilmington but is leaning toward a larger area outside the state because it's offering better incentives. 

"Atwater really needs a mid-Atlantic location like yesterday," said Patrick Doherty, a broker with Carolina Commercial Investment Properties, who is working as a consultant for the brewery.  

He said the craft-brewing industry is "red hot and it's moving into white hot." 

Atwater owner Mark Rieth sent city staffers a letter in May outlining what it would take for the company to construct a 65,000 sq. foot facility and employ at least 30 full-time workers. 

The city would have to "gain site control" of a parcel of land located at 900 N. 2nd Street and sell or lease property to the company at fair market value. 

Atwater is also asking the city to install underground infrastructure to support the brewery and get the site graded and ready for construction.

Doherty explained appropriate zoning is another important requirement. 

Planners with the City of Wilmington have been working for months to clarify zoning requirements for breweries, but the rules haven't been finalized yet.  

City Spokesman Dylan Lee says the city would welcome Atwater, but stresses officials haven't agreed to the company's requirements. 

He says Wilmington officials are in talks with a number of breweries because they've seen the positive effect those businesses have had in other communities. 

"The statistics demonstrate that the type of people that frequent those breweries are good for a local economy," Lee said. "You can ask Asheville how it's been up there, and from all reports that I've seen it's been an extremely positive thing..." 

Chris Levesque, general manager of Front Street Brewery, is on the local team working to attract breweries to Wilmington. 

He says existing breweries would benefit from visitors who come to Wilmington specifically to drink craft beer. 

"Beer tourism is becoming important all over the country more and more every day, and Wilmington has never had that, and I think it's good for any city." 

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