Pittsfield City Council Approves Economic Funds for New Brewery
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council last week approved a $140,000 allocation of the city's economic development funds for a new brewery in the Onota building on North Street.
This boost will help Brooklyn, N.Y., transplants Mike Dell'Aquila and Sarah Real to open Hot Plate Brewing Co. in the corner venue. It will be a "microbrewery" that is characterized by producing 15,000 barrels or less per year and will utilize local raw materials for ingredients.
The $140,000 will go toward the purchasing of equipment.
"We have found that Pittsfield is definitely a place that can use a brewery," Real said to the council on Tuesday.
"Craft beer brings people together, it is known that when you bring a brewery to a town, it is a place where people can gather and part of our bringing people together is we are not just going to have beer, that is why we are pursuing a pub license rather than a farmers license so we can pour other people's cider wine, non-alcoholic beverages so that everybody is welcome and everybody has a seat at the table."
The subcommittee on Community and Economic Development approved the allocation after a presentation from the entrepreneurs.
A majority of the council enthusiastically voted in favor of the funding.
"We have a woman of color owned microbrewery, that doesn't happen a lot in this country and I think that's going to be something special," Councilor at Large Earl Persip III said.
"And I think people are going to want to come here for the great beer and kind of experience what you bring to the table, the presentation was top of the line, you addressed every single issue that we could have even brought up at the subcommittee, your little presentation tonight, on the spot, knocking out of the park, I'm so excited to support this."
Vice President of Lenco Armored Vehicles Lenny Light also attended the meeting to speak in support of Hot Plate Brewing Co. during open microphone.
Light said there is not enough community or social opportunities for young professionals in the city and that this proposal addresses the problem.
"The business plan that [Real] and [Dell'Aquila] put together that they'll speak about tonight for Hot Plate Brewing, I think it takes aim at this challenge and starts to pick away at it just a little bit," he said.
"And so while I recognize that Hot Plate isn't the only answer to this challenge the city faces, I think that they're a very compelling and inspiring piece to this puzzle for us."
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi was the sole vote in opposition because of parking concerns.
"I know for myself, and this is in my ward, there's a real concern with the parking situation down there for me, that's for sure with what we've done to North Street," Morandi said in reference to the new one-lane configuration of the downtown corridor with an added bike lane.
"And also this business is right where School Street is, and we know how really congested School Street is, we changed to a one way at least now and we have our Police Department, they have a lack of parking facilities where they are they rely heavily on there, so I guess that's a real concern for me with the parking issues going on downtown."
He said that he is also concerned about delivery trucks not being able to access the facility.
"I certainly welcome business in the city, that's for sure, but I just don't think that this location, as far I'm concerned works with the things that you're going to bring in," Morandi said. "Especially the parking, that's going to be a real concern."
Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo said that according to his own spatial analysis, he counted around 6,000 individual off-street parking spaces, which he said is "well in excess of demand."
Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales reported that over the past year and a half there were 12 new parking spaces in the vicinity of School Street. These were added after working with the Pittsfield Police Department to free up space after the issue of police cruisers occupying the spaces was identified.
He added that delivery trucks have found ample space to park on North Street in the buffer and bike lane. There are also spaces designated for deliveries.
Councilor at Large Peter White highlighted the fact that Hot Plate has a recommendation letter from Big Elm Brewing co-founder and CEO Christine Bump.
"To have a letter of recommendation from somebody, you know, knows the industry who knows the Berkshires as well as Christine Bump, that's huge," He said.
Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon said she was confused because councilors who opposed the tax rate that was voted on earlier in the meeting, which included Morandi, emphasized the need to support local businesses.
"I am a little confused because we just had this really long conversation about supporting our businesses and how North Street is empty and how we need to make sure that we're supporting our business, we need to cut the tax rate to support our businesses," she said.
"And now we have an opportunity to use money that is dedicated to supporting businesses to support a new business in Pittsfield and so I'm confused as to why that is a debate."
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