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ULI Panel, Crime & Punishment Brewing Co. Weigh In On How Breweries Impact Community Development

  A unique event hosted this month by the Philadelphia chapter of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) featured a roundtable discussion on the impact of breweries and brewpubs on neighborhood real estate. More than 100 people packed the tasting room at Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC) to listen to the panel discussion, which centered on the unique challenges and rewards that breweries face when entering a neighborhood and strategies for engaging their new neighbors.

  “Brewing Success: How Breweries Are Transforming Real Estate” featured an all-star panel, including Bill Barton, co-founder of PBC; Trevor Hayward, co-founder of Evil Genius Brewing Company; Joanna Winchester, Economic Development Director for the New Kensington Community Development Corp; and local developers Jacob Roller and John Longacre.

 Jacob Roller has helped to develop a number of properties in Brewerytown, including Crime & Punishment, a Russian literature-themed brewpub located at 2711 West Girard Avenue. He told the panel why he thought brewpubs can serve as vital fixtures in developing communities.

  “Brewpubs are places you can visit a couple of times a month. [Gathering places] are really what make a neighborhood a neighborhood,” he said.

  Spirit News reached out to the owners of Crime & Punishment to get a sense of their experience since opening their Brewerytown location last summer. Michael Wambolt, co-owner of Crime & Punishment, echoed Mr. Roller’s sentiments about the importance of gathering places in up-and-coming neighborhoods in a recent interview.

  “I believe we have been well received by the neighborhood. We have finally been able to bring people to a once-empty commercial corridor consistently for the first time in many years,” he said. “Our work with our local CDCs has also helped to facilitate positive interaction within the neighborhood. I think people are just happy to have an interesting, locally oriented, and comfortable place to come and meet with each other.”

  The positive impact on the community does not end with simply providing them a gathering place, however. Equally important to the owners of Crime & Punishment is the ability to use their platform to raise awareness and funds for local causes.  

  “We consistently work with local non-profits, musicians, and artists to foment a culture that is community centric,” Wambolt stressed. “We have raised money for Give N Go athletics on several occasions to provide for sporting goods and tutoring supplies for kids in the neighborhood.     We have fundraised for Kelley Elementary School to raise funds for their art and music programs.  We recently hosted a fundraiser to raise awareness around those who have been wrongly incarcerated with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.”

  When prompted to name his biggest successes to date, Michael Wambolt’s answer was inextricably linked to a sense of community.

  “We have been able to grow the business from day one, with hiring more staff, expanding our menu, purchasing more fermenting and conditioning vessels, purchasing the building we operate out of, and consistently working to foster a space [that] is community centric by hosting fundraisers, concerts, and art exhibits,” he said.

  “We like to hold a different fundraiser every month, usually on Mondays or Wednesdays. This is our way of taking the success we’ve had and giving back. We also regularly host a First Friday that features a new local artist every month and is often accompanied by local musicians or DJs.  Interacting with our community in this way is something [that] I believe is important for every business, especially those in gentrifying neighborhoods.”

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