CINCINNATI — A nearly million-dollar project to revitalize College Hill's business district received its first tenant Tuesday when Brink Brewing Company leased space in one of the soon-to-be-restored Dow Corner buildings on Hamilton Avenue.
“We feel we are on the brink of doing something special. We think College Hill is on the brink as well,” said Andrew McCleese, one of five co-owners of the new brewery.
Other Brink Brewing owners include Colorado beer professional John McGarry and wife Sarah, head brewer Kelly Montgomery and assistant brewer Mark Landers.
Brink will occupy the northernmost building in the $950,000 mixed-use redevelopment project, which also includes the "Doll House" in the 5900 block of Hamilton Avenue. The College Hill Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (CHCURC), a non-profit organization, bought the Dow Corner properties in 2014 and the Doll House in 2013. When renovations are complete, four to five other commercial spaces and four apartments, along with a new nearby parking lot, will join Brink Brewing in the area.
The brewers plan to invest about $300,000 into renovating the Dow Corner building that Brink will occupy. Construction is set to begin March 1. If construction stays on schedule, the brewery will open in late November to early December.
Once complete, the space will include a brewhouse, taproom and outdoor patio. The brewhouse’s maximum output will be about 1,500 barrels of beer per year. The brewery plans to only produce about 700 barrels in its first year, though, as the brewers refine their process. Patrons will dictate, in part, what beers Montgomery and Landers make.
“We want to let the market decide, though people might expect to see a nut brown ale when we open,” McCleese said.
Montgomery and Landers won best in show out of thousands of entries in the Hop Courage National Home Brew competition last year for that particular brew. The two brewers, who started working together about five years ago, share about 50 other national honors between them.
Michael Cappel, president of CHCURC, helped sell the brewers on moving to College Hill, Landers said. The business partners began looking for space to set up shop in 2014 with little luck. On a chance introduction, Cappel gave the group a tour of their future space and a vision of a community that would embrace the entrepreneurs.
“I think it’s huge,” Cappel said of Brink deciding to call College Hill home. “Everyone wants a game changer. It is going to create momentum. They bought into the vision of a revitalized College Hill business district early.”
Cappel said the neighborhood also plans to break ground in April on the $11.1 million Marlow Court mixed-use development at nearby Marlow and Hamilton avenues. In April 2009, CHCURC purchased nine buildings there for demolition. The new four-story construction replacing those buildings will include affordable housing and five retail units. It is slated for completion in June 2017.
“That was really what we were looking for,” McCleese said. “College Hill will have everything — new buildings, retail and walkable. We’re just excited to be in this neighborhood.”