Brewery, business accelerator planned on Brookland Park Blvd.

Chris Campanella, left, and Brandon Tolbert are behind Safety Team Brewing. (Jonathan Spiers)

A two-block stretch of Brookland Park Boulevard is being eyed for two developments – a brewery and business accelerator – that backers say are intended to spur the corridor’s revitalization.

Development groups behind the two projects – Safety Team Brewing at 310 W. Brookland Park Blvd., and Urban Capital Collaborative at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd. – presented plans Thursday evening at a meeting of the Brookland Park Area Association.

Local developer Cory Weiner, brewer Brandon Tolbert and business partner Chris Campanella, who would manage the brewery, plan to submit an application in about a week for a special-use permit (SUP) to construct Safety Team, a 6,500-square-foot brewery that would replace the former carwash and a nearby vacant lot at Brookland Park Boulevard and Fendall Avenue.

Plans call for a single-story building with a possible second-story rooftop patio. The first-floor façade would include garage doors to allow for indoor and outdoor seating, along with an indoor bar and production area and 13 on-site parking spaces.

Weiner, who purchased the two parcels in February for $25,000 each, said the brewery would be a catalyst for redevelopment in the area and is intended to be a gathering place for the neighborhood.

“It’s really focused on being a neighborhood place,” said Campanella, who met Tolbert while he was general manager of Southbound restaurant in Chesterfield County. He also worked eight years at Morton’s The Steakhouse downtown and six years at Edo’s Squid. This is his first business venture.

Several residents in attendance expressed concerns over whether a brewery is an appropriate use for the corridor, citing issues with substance abuse in the area. Others in attendance said the project would be a benefit to the neighborhood and help attract more businesses and restaurants.

Campanella said the brewery would employ 20 to 30 full-time employees and present job opportunities for area residents. He also said it would host neighborhood cleanups and be active in the community.


The former car wash at 310 W. Brookland Park Blvd. (Jonathan Spiers)

“Part of what we’re trying to do is be part of the community, and to do that, you have to give back. You can’t just take,” Campanella said.

If the neighborhood supports it and permits are approved, Weiner said the brewery could break ground in four to six months and then would take another five months or so to construct. The group presented designs and renderings by Fultz & Singh Architects and have yet to secure a builder. Campanella said funding would come through independent investment.

Campanella said the name “Safety Team” comes from his college years playing in a band, when they would take a break between songs and call “safety team” for a round of shots.

He and Tolbert said they were originally looking to locate the brewery at 1500 Brook Road, but buildout costs were too expensive. Campanella said they connected with Weiner through his brother, who is Campanella’s next-door neighbor.

Tolbert, who worked four years at The Answer after a stint at Extra Billy’s, said he plans to brew similar beers as he did at The Answer, including IPAs, stouts, lagers and sour beers. He said they also plan to do barrel aged beers, and while they aim to focus on in-house sales, he said the brewery would include a distribution component, but on a small scale.

Campanella said occupancy and hours remain to be determined, though he said the brewery would not be open late-night. The group did not have a cost estimate for the project.

They’re working on the SUP process with Lory Markham of Markham Planning.

Responding to questions from attendees, Campanella maintained that they’re aiming to fit into the neighborhood.

“We don’t want to be seen as coming in from outside and trying to take over. We want to be ‘part of,’” he said. “We’re not here to try to sneak something past you. We’re here before we start.”

The project is the latest for Weiner, whose CW Performance Group LLC has been on a buying spree in the area of late. It owns storefronts between 114 and 127 Brookland Park Blvd. and has brought ScrapRVA and other businesses to the corridor, which developers have been eyeing and investing in for years.

The former bank building at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd. (Jonathan Spiers)

Earlier in the meeting, developer LaMar Dixon of Dixon/Lee Development Group presented an update on plans for the former American National Bank Building at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd.

Dixon is planning a business accelerator in collaboration with Virginia Union University. Called Urban Capital Collaborative, the $1.2 million project would convert the building into a space for students to work with existing businesses and encourage economic development in the area.

A three-dimensional video rendering showed a two-story space with a mezzanine and a variety of work spaces to accommodate as many as 100 people at a time. The space would include Wi-Fi and room for community meetings.

Dixon, who purchased the property three years ago for $20,000, responded to questions scrutinizing the project and how much time has passed before a proposal was presented. He acknowledged the project involves a $200,000 grant from the city and a performance agreement that required a tenant. City administration changes and discussions with VUU contributed to the time involved, representatives said.

The grant and performance agreement requires that the accelerator put at least 30 students to work on an annual basis over a five-year period, Dixon said.

He said the project and $929,000 in construction costs would be paid for with financing through a bank. Presenters said they have an architect selected and are starting work on construction estimates.

They aim to break ground in the third quarter of this year, with buildout expected to last seven months.

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