SILVERTON, OH -- How badly does the village of Silverton want in on Greater Cincinnati's craft brewery boom?
Bad enough for the mayor and administration to pull up stakes and turn city hall over to a brewmaster.
Silverton is under contract to buy the Thompson Hall & Jordan funeral home on Montgomery Road with plans to move the village administration offices there, along with a Hamilton County Sheriff's substation.
That plan frees up the architectural gem that Silverton built in 1951 in the heart of the village's business district at Montgomery and Plainfield roads. A four-bay fire station is already vacant except for city files since Silverton merged its fire department with Deer Park in 1999.
That space is ready-made for a craft brewer's tanks and other brewing equipment, Village Administrator Tom Carroll said. The rest of the building has plenty of room for a bar and tables and some signature spaces.
Those include two jail cells with intact steel bars and a walk-in safe.
In all, the village administration building has 9,500 square feet of floor space on the ground floor and in the basement.
"This space really lends itself to that craft brewing-type facility, and also just a craft brewing renaissance going on in Cincinnati that will bring a lot more people here," Carroll said.
Silverton signed agreements with a group that wanted to develop a craft brewery, but those agreements have expired after no deal was finalized, Carroll said.
The village is now working with another potential developer to create a craft brewery there and to operate a beer and wine garden across Montgomery Road from the building.
That grassy lot is the site of the former Lighthouse lighting store and is owned by Silverton. The village wants to create a public plaza there with alcohol and food sales.
"This is our wine and beer garden district. We're going to have a plaza, a civic space that will be open and fun for families and anyone who wants to come out on a sunny day and just enjoy that space with a glass of beer or a glass of wine," Carroll said.
Mayor John Smith has lived in Silverton for 30 years and has watched as its status was downgraded from a city to a village when its population fell below 5,000 to 4,799 in the 2010 census. That's down from a peak of 6,682 in 1960.
But he sees anecdotal evidence of a resurgence of population that he think will be accelerated by the brewery project.
"We see more young people coming into the community. We see more strollers on the sidewalks," he said.
Anecdotal evidence will turn into something more concrete when a $30 million to $40 million apartment and commercial development is scheduled to open in phases beginning in summer 2018.
Called AG47, the development is on 10 acres along Montgomery Road three blocks from the village building. It will include 60,000 square feet of office/retail space and 205 upscale apartments.
Carroll thinks the projects will bolster each other.
"The craft brewery will help attract a lot of tenants to that building who want that local craft brewery that's so easy to walk to and that will revitalize the stretch in between as well," he said. "The fact that there's so much activity happening three blocks away to the east will help make this brewery a fantastic success -- a built-in business market.
Carroll foresees customers coming to the brewery from a five-mile radius, which includes affluent communities like Kenwood, Amberley Village, Madeira and Cincinnati's Oakley neighborhood.
"Within five miles, we have almost 200,000 people," he said.
The brewery and beer and wine garden will be an easy walk for the locals, too.
"Silverton is only 1.1 square miles, and with a couple of exceptions on the south side, there aren't any places that don't have sidewalks in our community," Carroll said.
He's hopeful that the brewery will build on a trend of more young families moving into the neighborhood.
"My sense is that we're seeing a lot of millennials, for price or ability to find a home spilling up this way," he said.