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City approves brewery’s $125k forgivable loan

SOLON– “We’ll try to make you very proud,” Faye Swift told council members last week.
Swift and her son Matt have been working on plans for a Main Street microbrewery in Solon, and at a Sept. 5 meeting, Solon City Council members threw most of their support behind the project.
The city has amended its urban renewal plan to include the project and has pledged $125,000 in forgivable loans toward its completion. Those actions were approved at the Sept. 5 meeting, as well as the addition of “microbrewery” as an acceptable use in Solon’s commercially zoned properties.
The Swifts expect to demolish the building at 101 W. Main St., the former site of Joensy’s Restaurant, and erect a new building which would house a microbrewery and eatery. The building was purchased in August, and Swift has applied for a demolition permit with hopes of approval by the end of the month.
To assist toward that end, the city will provide two loans for the yet-unnamed business– $25,000 for demolition of the current structure and $100,000 for construction of a new building.
According to the amended urban renewal plan, both loans would be forgiven upon the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the microbrewery.
Solon City Administrator Cassandra Lippincott said the city anticipates utilizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund the incentive. TIF funds, collected beginning with the 2014 fiscal year, will repay an internal advance, she noted.
Financial information included in the urban renewal amendment placed the city’s outstanding general obligation debt at $3,854,000, with a debt limit of $7,624,789.
A resolution authorizing the loans was approved by the council on a 3-1 vote, with Steve Stange voting against and Jessie Ehlinger absent.
Swift told council members the new building will be approximately 4,500 square feet, with 1,200 square feet allocated for the brewery and the rest to restaurant and bar space. When asked whether the structure would have one story or two, Swift said it hasn’t been determined, but explained the brewery will need space above it for ingredient storage, so the building may appear larger than one story.
The owners are still seeking a name for the business, although Swift reported an Iowa native has been hired as the chef.
In a related action, council members passed the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s zoning classifications to add “microbrewery” as an acceptable use in all three commercial zoning classifications.