Update on New Yards Brewing Company Brewery and Tasting Room
Yards Brewing Co. plans to build a brewery and tasting room in a portion of the former Destination Maternity building on Spring Garden Street. The Spring Garden location will be the fifth site since Yards’ founding in 1994.
During the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association (NLNA) zoning meeting last Monday, Yards Brewing Company presented its plans to build a brewery with a tasting room in a portion of the empty building on the 500 block of Spring Garden Street.
However, the project is facing a zoning obstacle from the City. According to the Philadelphia zoning law, the site’s required use is CMX-3, or commercial mixed use. This means that the building cannot be used for industrial purposes, which is what Yards Brewing Co. needs for the brewery to function.
In other words, Yards will not be able to use the site for manufacturing unless they are able to obtain a variance from the City’s Zoning Board that would specifically restrict the manufacturing activity to a brewery.
So, Yards hired zoning lawyer Peter Kelsen to represent them on their September 14th zoning board hearing with the city.
Kelsen said the empty 225,000 sq. foot building lends itself not only to Yards’ use, but other tenants that will fill the building.
Aside from this obstacle, Yards has major plans for the northeast corner of the former Destination Maternity location.
The brewery will occupy 85,000 square feet of the building. It will feature a packaging hall, a larger brewhouse with enhanced odor-reducing technology, waste elimination systems, a loading dock, a parking lot, street parking security cameras and alarms. A pub with an event space will also be found within the brewery.
The packaging lines will be contained within the plant, and will not cause sound issues outside the premises or in adjacent areas.
The Spring Garden location will have a larger brew house enhanced to emit fewer aromas from the stack. In all of 22 years, Yards claims to have never received an odor-related complaint, and its previous locations have been closer to residential housing.
The truck traffic will most likely be heaviest Monday through Friday, possibly from 8AM to 4PM. However, the zoning committee proposed a provision for an earlier time.
Architect Jeff Goldstein is spearheading the design of the brewery. Goldstein said the previous occupants of the building, Destination Maternity, made more deliveries and pickups per day than the brewery will make.
The parking lot to the south of the building will have 312 spaces. Yards has been granted exclusive access to 55 parking spots with an additional 15 spaces that are available after 7PM and on the weekend. Street parking with no restrictions will also be available around the building.
Yards anticipates a majority of its employees will ride their bikes to work or commute via public transportation. Because of this, Yards was recently named the Clean Air Council Commuter of the Year for local businesses.
Yards is a 24-hour facility for production except on some weekends, so the building will be equipped with video camera outside and inside. Keycards will be required to enter all non-retail areas, and the building will be alarmed.
During the presentation, Goldstein offered historic trivia about the neighborhood of Spring Garden, specifically that Yards Brewing Co. will not be the first brewery to have a home in the area if given permission from the city to be there.
According to Goldstein, the former Betz Brewery used to be located in the neighborhood, but it has long since closed.
“If we think about what a brewery is today, breweries are not only manufacturing facilities, but also a draw for visitors, for tours, for taste events,” Goldstein said. “We think the best spaces are the ones where visitors are in the midst of the equipment and the processes that make the beer.”
In spite of reassurances from Yards founders Tom Kehoe and Trevor Prichett that the new brewery would not cause all the noise and chaos that may come from typical bars, some neighbors voiced their concerns over noise during the meeting.
One resident was worried that the dishes and eating utensils would make too much clinking and clanging during tasting events at the facility, because the event space is outside.
Another was worried that the outdoor beer grain silos would not be wind resistant; the owners assured her they would take every precaution to bolt them down.
“They won’t flop over in the wind,” Goldstein said. “The foundation to hold tanks will be pretty even.”
Marguerite, another concerned citizen, opined that the brewery might be too industrial as opposed to residential-friendly for the area.
Marguerite lives across the street from the former Destination Maternity building and was also concerned about the fact that Yards is seeking a change in zoning for the site.
“I was very happy when the area got re-zoned. I bought my unit because I knew that the rezoning was going to happen,” she said. “Even though these people seem very upfront, what they’re asking for is a change in zoning for five to six [streets], from Spring Garden to Willow.”
Kelsen addressed her concern by responding that the rezoning is not for the entire building, but only for 80,000 square feet of it. Yards is seeking a variance, not a rezoning, he explained.
Contrary to the concerns of these residents, Goldstein assured them that a brewery in that location will contribute to the pedestrian experience and revitalization of Spring Garden.
“Yards wants to use the Northeast corner to bring a street presence and engage in the experience of Spring Garden Street and serve as a beacon for manufacturing in Philadelphia,” Goldstein said. •