Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pinelands Brewing siting new location

Pinelands Brewing, a South Jersey nanobrewery in development, is looking for a new building and possibly a new host town.

Founder Jason Chapman said the building in Egg Harbor City (in Atlantic County) that he and partner Luke McCooley chose back in the wintertime for their planned 1-barrel brewery now looks to be unsuitable. (That's Jason in the hat, talking to Ben Battiata, of Turtle Stone Brewing, a South Jersey brewery that's in the process of coming online.)

The building had housed a soda company in a former life (that's what made it attractive for a brewery, Jason says) and most recently was the home to an indoor flea market-like business.

Complications with the town have arisen over the location and are forcing Jason and Luke to scrap the building and look elsewhere, possibly in Burlington County.

"We had been leasing the building with the optimism of getting through the city, but have actually hit some hard times with them. It was a tougher battle than we previously could foresee. Right now, we've actually backed out of the lease, and we're scoping out a warehouse in Burlington County," Jason says.

One of the sticking points relates to a pre-existing condition that stipulated the building was to be knocked down to make way for parking for an as-yet unfulfilled city redevelopment project.

City officials wouldn't consider the brewery project as long as the redevelopment condition was still in force, and trying to get it lifted would tie up a lot of time and financial resources.

"For someone trying to start a small business, it's very difficult," Jason says.

The setback is disappointing, Jason concedes, but he says he's looking more forward than backward.

"It's a learning experience. No one said it was going to be easy. When you start this kind of project, the cards are stacked against you," Jason says. "But I remain confident. I will persevere. I'm hungry for this. I want to hold a position in bringing craft beer to South Jersey."

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