Things seem to be falling into place for Surly Brewing Company’s plan to build a $20 million “destination brewery.”
 
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a $450,000 grant for environmental cleanup at a Minneapolis site near Highway 280 and University Avenue that Surly has been exploring.
 
Brooklyn Center-based Surly, a craft brewer, said in September that the site had “risen to the top” of its list of options for the new brewery but wasn’t a sure thing. The company added that it was seeking grants from the Metropolitan Council, the State of Minnesota, and Hennepin County to cover some of the cost of the site’s preparation and cleanup.
 
News of the just-approved grant from Hennepin County comes less than a month after the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded $1.5 million worth of environmental cleanup grants for the site—which is located in Prospect Park and once housed a Northern Star Company potato processing plant.
 
The Hennepin County grant is the largest of 10 that the board just approved; the grants collectively total $1.2 million, and the funding comes from the county’s Environmental Response Fund. That fund provides grants for environmental assessment and cleanup of sites that “present a known threat to human health or the environment, provide community benefit from the cleanup, and lack funding from other sources.” Priority is given to projects that promote public or green space, affordable and moderately priced housing, and economic development.
 
An announcement about Tuesday’s county board actions said that the Surly brewery will create a “substantial” number of jobs.
 
When asked about the recent cleanup grants awarded for the Minneapolis site, Surly told Twin Cities Business on Wednesday via e-mail: “After submitting the necessary applications and paperwork last year, we’ve received word that the majority of our requests have been approved. This is a big step in the process and will allow Surly to move forward in the next steps to potentially acquire and redevelop the site.” 
 
Surly didn’t say when it’s likely to make a final site decision.
 
In February 2011, Surly announced plans to build a $20 million destination brewery—complete with a bar, restaurant, event center, beer garden, and rooftop terrace—and the company helped spearhead a change in state liquor laws to allow Minnesota brewers to sell pints of beer from on-site “taprooms.”
 
In June, Surly narrowed its list of possible locations for the destination brewery to four—two in Minneapolis, one in Brooklyn Center, and another in an unnamed “inner-suburban” location. Then in July, Surly selected Minneapolis-based HGA Architects and Engineers to design the brewery.
 
The grant awarded earlier this month by the Metropolitan Council totaled $545,300, and the DEED grant totaled $1 million. Although the DEED grant was one of the two largest among 14 that the agency approved, the dollar amount was less than what Surly had hoped for; a DEED spokesman told Twin Cities Business that $1.5 million was requested.
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