Moving on up: MadTree Brewing explores possible move to Oakley

Brewers plan major expansion, relocation

CINCINNATI -- Oakley could be the new home of MadTree Brewing by 2018 if the brewery's plans for expansion and relocation come to fruition.

According to city documents, the popular Columbia Township brewery is hoping to renovate the old Rock Tenn processing plant at 3301 Madison Road.

In emails sent to Cincinnati City Council members, MadTree detailed how its demand is outstripping its production, necessitating a new location.

MadTree reports it sells to 48 counties in Ohio and three counties in Kentucky. It has grown to producing more than 20,000 barrels of beer in two years.

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The brewers said their proposed new location would allow them to produce up to 400,000 barrels per year. In the emails, MadTree said it plans to eventually distribute to a five-state area including Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan.

MadTree is in negotiations with the City of Cincinnati and the Oakley Community Council over the financing and approval for the project. The site needs asbestos remediation work done before it could be used as a taproom and production facility.

In an email to city development officials, a lobbyist hired by MadTree reported that an environmental assessment of the site came back as “not too bad." However, full cost estimates of the remediation work were not available.

madtree expansion

Courtesy of the City of Cincinnati

The brewery is partnering with Al. Neyer to advance the project. Al. Neyer has a contract to analyze the site before a final deal is made.

The project would take over five acres and include an 83,000-square foot facility that would house a production facility, taproom, kitchen, office space, warehouse and more. According to plans submitted by Al. Neyer, the new location would feature a 4,500-square foot taproom that would bridge the production facility and the rest of the building.

MadTree co-founder Kenny McNutt issued the following statement:

"The site is MadTree's preferred location. We are still working through the due diligence phase of this project, but there is nothing official to report."

McNutt is also a board member on the Oakley Community Council.

So far most of the city councilmembers and Mayor John Cranley haven’t issued a statement on the project. Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said that she supports the move and looks forward to hearing more about it.

Also, emails between city development workers and council member offices indicate significant support for the plan.

"Mad Tree Brewing has expressed an interest in moving into the city and we are engaged in discussions with them about making this happen," Cincinnati Community and Economic Development Director Oscar Bedolla said. "Gaining jobs and growing the City's tax base is a win for City and the community. As this point, the good faith discussions continue; however, there is no deal to announce.”

In MadTree’s request for grant money from JobsOhio to study the site, Cincinnati Department of Trade & Development Officer Dan Bower wrote that the plan is consistent with a city study on the redevelopment of underutilized industrial sites. He also wrote the proposal would “support existing retail, residential, and office uses within the Madison Road Corridor.”

While many of the details of the project have not been released, application documents and city records provide a window into what the relocation might look like.

madtree expansion

Courtesy of the City of Cincinnati

In an application filed with help from REDI Cincinnati, MadTree detailed some of the expected growth from the project.

REDI Cincinnati also works as a partner of the state’s JobsOhio program, and could be influential in helping MadTree win grants or tax cuts to help get the project off the ground.

For 2015, MadTree reports that it has 35 people in its ranks, as well as 13 more employees from the Catch-a-Fire pizza kitchen inside the brewery. That puts its total 2015 payroll at about $1.5 million. It also projects to produce 25,000 barrels of beer this year.

By 2018 -- which would likely be when a proposed expansion could be online -- MadTree hopes to produce about 50,000 barrels via an expansion. Its payroll would swell to $2.9 million. MadTree hopes to have about 70 employees at the brewery and taproom; as well as 22 workers at the Catch-A-Fire kitchen.

By 2020 and beyond, MadTree expects to produce about 100,000 barrels and have a payroll of $4.9 million. That would include about 120 brewery employees and the kitchen employees.

 

Asbestos and taxes aren’t the only concerns MadTree might have with a move to the city. The company was among many brewers in Hamilton County that took issue with new surcharges from the Metropolitan Sewer District over brewery wastewater.

While the surcharges were overturned and halted for now, they are likely to be implemented after the MSD completes a study. That would cause some to question why MadTree would double down on a site that carries built-in increased costs.

“Regardless of location, MadTree is working to reduce its environmental impact," McNutt said. The brewery founder said some of those environmental costs can be offset by working with companies that mitigate wastewater runoff and other services.

The Oakley Community Council said it expects to hear a full presentation of the project from the MadTree founders in early January.

If the plan moved forward, MadTree would join three other breweries that announced, started or completed major expansions in 2015.

Rhinegeist recently finished multi-million-dollar renovations to its site in Over-the-Rhine. Christian Moerlein is set to more than triple its capacity via a new expansion at its OTR brewery as well. Plus Rivertown announced it was opening a new $2.7 million expansion in Monroe.

For the latest Cincinnati beer news and entertainment, go to wcpo.com/beer or follow Jesse on Twitter at @wcpojesse.

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