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Use permit seeks conversion of old rec center into Old Town brewpub

An architectural rendering shows the design concept for the Old Town brewpub to be located in the former Cottonwood Rec Center. Photo courtesy Robert Conlin

An architectural rendering shows the design concept for the Old Town brewpub to be located in the former Cottonwood Rec Center. Photo courtesy Robert Conlin

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VVN/Vyto Starinskas

COTTONWOOD -- A plan to turn a former church building at the entrance of Old Town Cottonwood into a brewpub will be in front of the Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night.

The building sits across from Bing’s Burger Station at the first bend in Old Town and was Cottonwood’s first recreation center.

Paint peels from the structure now and a chain holds the doors closed, but owners Bob Conlin and Pete Goehring have filed a letter of intent with P&Z outlining their plans.

Even though the property is zoned “Light Commercial” and allows them to sell the beer it produces onsite, the owners are seeking a conditional-use permit to allow them to distribute beer that they make off-site to restaurants and bars, according to their letter of intent and the P&Z staff report.

“Initially the company will brew on a two-barrel brewing system. Brews (4) ½ barrel or standard size kegs at a time,” explains the letter to P&Z. “The company wishes to have the freedom to distribute excess kegs of beer to local area restaurants and bars, if it so chooses,” the letter of intent explains.

The applicants said they have taken great care to preserve the historic elements of the building, using time-period correct colors and materials on the historic structure, as Historic Preservation guidelines dictate.

Conlin and partners put in a successful bid with the Cottonwood City Council to redevelop the building into a brewpub in 2014, paying $150,000 for the property. A brewpub is a small microbrewery that also serves food.

“The site consists of a beautiful (albeit dilapidated) historic building first built in 1928 as the Verde Baptist Church,” Conlin said his letter. The building was constructed as the church and it was also a mechanics garage and a gym, he said.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Conlin said Wednesday while looking at the structure on Main Street. “We had a few structural issues we had to address in our architectural plan.”

He said they will install an interconnected steel beam/truss system to reinforce the old building. The exterior will remain stucco “time period correct” colors and materials.

The upstairs will be the main restaurant, bar and kitchen and food will be passed through what used to be the window between the old alter and baptismal. An elevator will added to meet ADA requirements. The bar will have a big window that looks out onto Main Street.

The beer will be freshly brewed downstairs in the basement garage and there will be an “outdoor” beer garden with a seating area and fire pit near the downstairs taproom with a limited menu.

“The brewery will produce a variety of high-quality, small-batch microbrews with an emphasis on local and seasonal flavors,” according to the letter.

The owners of the brewpub are working with architect Christian Vernosky, Conlin said, pointing out that he is the chairman of the Old Town Historic Preservation Committee.

The new owners intend “to renovate the structure to be in compliance with current building codes while simultaneously maintaining and restoring the historic elements of the structure,” city documents state.

BOTC Real Estate Holding LLC, which is owned by Conlin and Goehring, actually will own, renovate and manage the property and brewpub, according to the intent letter. Conlin also operates Bobby D’s Barbecue in Jerome.

The pros of the sale far outweigh the cons, then Councilman Tim Elinski said in 2014 when the brewpub sale was being considered. He suggested the proposal plugs a gap for Old Town, a resulting economic benefit. Elinski is now mayor of Cottonwood.

The City of Cottonwood currently has one microbrewery -- THAT Brewery -- which distributes throughout Arizona and does not have a restaurant.

A P&Z staff report - which on the top has a logo that reads “Cottonwood: the Heart of Arizona Wine Country” – “finds that the brewpub proposal will not be detrimental to the health, safety and well-being of surrounding properties.”

The proposal requires the conditional use permit on Monday night with just one approval, explained Jim Padgett, City of Cottonwood community development planner.

“The subject property is within the boundaries of the Cottonwood Historic District and is not required to provide additional on-site parking,” Padgett said in his letter.

The brew pub will not have its own parking lot, but patrons will have access to numerous shared parking lots in the Cottonwood Historic District, Padgett explained.

The P&Z meeting will be Monday, Dec. 17, 6 p.m., in the City Council Chambers, 826 N. Main Street, Cottonwood.

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