Bringing the brewer to Hopkins is just one idea being batted about as the city considers what to do with the Cold Storage site.
Surly Brewing Co. has been in the dreams of beer drinkers ever since it announced plans for a $20 million destination brewery with beer garden and restaurant. Now Hopkins has dreams of its own for the Brooklyn Center company: Why not come here?
City planners contacted the company to see if would be interested in the 17-acre Cold Storage site on Blake Road that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District bought at the end of 2011.
“There’s two good things with the Surly (idea),” Councilwoman Cheryl Youakim said. “The one is the jobs, and the other is all the Surly cans would say brewed in the City of Hopkins.”
(Surly's media contact could not immediately be reached. Patch will update this story once we are able to reach them.)
The brewery idea showcases just how big Hopkins officials are dreaming about a site that promises to be among the most important redevelopment opportunities in the city. Planners hope such a sizable property in an inner-ring suburb will attract the most desirable types of development.
For the moment, the brewery idea, specifically, is a distant one. Planners contacted Surly about the property and haven’t heard back one way or another, although the company thought it was a great site, said Kersten Elverum, the city’s director of economic development and planning.
Even if Surly did target the Cold Storage location, it’s not clear whether the community would welcome the company or whether the watershed district would find a destination brewery compatible with its own goals.
Yet the idea is an example of just how wide-ranging the options are as Hopkins officials work to nail down their vision for the site.
“It’s going to be a great piece of property to get developed, and we’re in control, and everybody’s got to realize that,” Mayor Gene Maxwell said. “We’ve just got to realize what we want first.”
City officials are clear on what they don’t want: big box retail.
Beyond that, they have just three main goals:
- Be compatible with the neighborhood
- Support light rail transit
- Limit retail that pulls customers away from the downtown.
Planners on Tuesday threw out possibilities ranging from the relatively straightforward—such as an office complex or some variety of housing— to the more exotic—a hotel, an educational campus or something like Midtown Global Market that’s both a destination and a place catering to the diverse neighborhoods nearby.
Of course, market realities will inevitably intrude—as they have in the past. Attracting retail to downtown mixed-use developments, for example, has proven more difficult than expected.
Yet Maxwell was adamant—as he and other council members have long been—that it’s better for the city to wait for the right project than to simply accept the first offer.
The city must still determine what “right” looks like. The council will have more-detailed planning discussions in the future, including meetings with the Park Board and Zoning and Planning Commission, to refine its vision.
With the last leases for Cold Storage tenants expiring in about three years, the city has some time to consider its options. But Hopkins officials want everyone on the same page in order to push the city’s vision forward most effectively. That will allow Hopkins to say, “Here’s what we want; go find it,” when meeting with the watershed district about the site’s future instead of just reacting to whatever possibilities the district throws out, Maxwell said.
Said Elverum: “It’s going to come up faster than we think, and we need to have a little bit of a game plan to how we approach it.”