The Needs You Need to Look for in Renovating an Older Building

When moving into a location that is an older building, there are some key requirements that you need to look at to make sure it’s a great fit to install your production space and taproom.

Big Grove in Iowa has four locations now and building big spaces is important said COO Dave Moore.

“We’re mindful of price per square foot,” he said. “Generally, it’s looking at what’s around the location first. Can people walk there? Is there ample parking and other reinvestment coming into the neighborhood?

“We like forgotten areas and work with the city to make them up and coming.”

Forgotten areas generally have a more attractive price per square foot, he said.

Partnerships play a factor in Big Grove’s locations too.

“Cities are generally working to revitalize certain areas and we’ve had the good fortune to align with the right spots that fit our criteria,” Moore said. “We have a new twist including a partnership with a city that’s invited our brewery to open a location in a brand new location. If you play on the edges that is where you can usually play.”

Have a Checklist

Every project Big Grove has done they had to do our their electric,” Moore said, adding that they look for things to build and have space to do what they want to do as well for a patio, bike parking, and outdoor areas.

Utah’s Shades Brewing is in the process of moving locations and evaluating space and COO Trent Fargher said the biggest problem they have when looking for a new space is clear heights for large tanks.

“Assuming the building fits the tanks then we look at the utilities that are currently installed in the building,” he said. “Three-phase power, amp service, water line size, gas line size. Next, we want to know where the sewer lines are and how easy they are to connect into for floor drains and traps.”

Utah cities require trap installation to measure BOD and TSS and assess a penalty if not in compliance, Fargher pointed out.

“If you have to cut into a city or state road for trap connection it gets pretty pricey,” he added.

Look for fire suppression as well, Fargher said.

“Any change of use triggers an upgrade of the current facility to current building code standards,” he said. “This will trigger fire suppression installation for older facilities. Most of what you get hit with is ADA requirements if suppression is in place already and that can get awfully expensive.”

Allowance for tentative improvements should be discussed as well, Fargher said.

“The landlord will offer as part of the deal,” he said. “It is nearly impossible to find an owner that won’t require a triple net lease. They pay for nothing while you are getting [screwed].

“What we are finding is that most of the new commercial space is owned by big corporations and they rather not work with breweries that need to modify the structure. They only want warehouse and distribution businesses that can handle 50,000-1 million square feet of space.

“This is out of our price range as lease rates have gone through the roof post-pandemic. The middle manufacturing buildings at 20,000 square feet are non-existent.”

Also, a dock to be available to move product in and out is a good checklist item to have as well, he said.

Photo courtesy Big Grove Brewery

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