Members of ULI Philadelphia’s brewery panel discussed how Philadelphia neighborhoods have evolved thanks of the rise in craft breweries and brewpubs. Speaking from Philadelphia Brewing Company (PBC) in Kensington, executives from major developers, designers, breweries, and New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NCKDC) – the local neighborhood association – examined craft beer trends.
Occurring hours after Yards Brewery announced their operational expansion to Fifth and Spring Garden, the panel focused on how breweries allowed for the rejuvenation and revitalization of neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Panelists specifically focused on the socio-economic impacts of craft beer in the Kensington, Newbold, and Brewerytown. PBC, which has been a staple in Kensington for almost a decade, hosted the event in their upstairs taproom which overlooks many new construction projects.
Panelists featured Bill Barton Founder of PBC and Trevor Hayward, Founder of Evil Genius Brewing Company, who focused on craft beer culture. They were accompanied by Joanna Winchester, the Economic Development Director at NKCDC and two local developers; John Longacre, Founder and President of LPMG Companies and Jacob Roller of J. Roller Development.
Moderated by Bernardon Principal Paul Andrew Sgroi AIA, LEED AP, the discussion kicked off by examining how the design, location, and commitment of a brewery to its constituents can greatly impact the surrounding neighborhood.
Bill Barton gave a great example of this; working with neighborhood CDC’s and NKCDC as well as local government officials and businesses, PBC has been a driving force in revitalizing Kensington. This relationship has greatly assisted in the success of PBC. Since acquiring their Kensington space, PBC has worked carefully and consciously to create a space that allows for efficient brewing while incorporating feedback from existing neighbors. By seeking out input from NKCDC early on, PBC was able to not only able to build a local base of loyal customers, but have become true leaders in the Kensington community.
Evil Genius Brewing on the other hand, is at the very beginning of this process. They recently purchased a new facility at the intersection of Front and Palmer Streets in South Kensington. Slated to open at year end, this brewery will be Evil Genius’ first brick and mortar location that is all their own. Trevor explained that he and co-owner Luke Bowen were excited by the idea of placemaking and felt that the venue location, size, and shape were perfect for expanding their operations. They aim to create a community hangout which will leverage the city’s thriving craft beer subculture. Their new venue is also a homecoming – Trevor and Luke met at Villanova University and bonded in accounting class over their love of craft beer.
However, creating a neighborhood brewery is easier said than done. John Longacre of LPMG Companies discussed how he and his team overcame challenges when developing the critically acclaimed South Philly Taproom. As one of LPMG Companies first commercial projects, they transformed a previously forgotten corner of Newbold (15th and Mifflin) into one of the neighborhood’s most popular gastropubs. To do this, John and his team said the infrastructure and amenities have to be in place; “people want to live near cool stuff. It’s that simple.” Of course, developing a brewpub or brewery helps draw foot traffic and attract residents, but without the initial support of local businesses and organizations, projects like these would never get off the drawing board.
Jacob Roller of J. Roller Development echoed these sentiments. While his company developed in the up-and-coming Brewerytown area, he has a similar experience. “Just the other week I overheard a group of tourists leaving the Art Museum debating which breweries they were going to visit while in town. The rise in breweries has allowed both citizens and out-of-towners to discover new areas of the city.” Jacob went on to explain how he selected Brewerytown: an underserved but conveniently located neighborhood, it appeared to be a perfect candidate for development.
Each panelist expressed deep appreciation for NKCDC and other neighborhood groups for allowing their dreams to come into fruition. As Joanna explained “neighborhoods and breweries want to support each other, it’s just a matter of getting on the same page.” NKCDC offers a wide array of services to both developers and business owners; they provide insight on everything from filling out zoning applications (which can be tricky depending on what type of amenities a brewery plans to offer) to finding a location that’s walkable and adjacent to SEPTA.
For over 30 years, NKCDC has provided social and economic assistance to regional businesses, but in the past year alone they have seen huge increases in property value and permits. Established and new breweries, along with the bars and restaurants that serve and promote local craft beer, have created a unique marketplace within the city. “A great brewpub can create a destination and foster a renewed sense of community,” Joanna said.
Bernardon Principal Paul Andrew Sgroi agreed, “by transforming the quality of local businesses through infrastructure and thoughtful, user-centric design, neighborhoods are able to flourish.”
For additional coverage of our brewery event please visit:
- ULI Panel, Crime & Punishment Brewing Co. Weigh In On How Breweries Impact Community Development
- Beer Me! ULI Philadelphia Panel Examines the Role of Beer in Neighborhood Development