On October 9, 2014, we announced the selection of Richmond, Virginia, as the home for our upcoming Eastern U.S. brewery, packaging hall and Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens farm-to-table restaurant. Located in the city’s Greater Fulton community, the project site offers everything we asked for and more, even though, at first glance, few might be able to see its potential. As it stands now, the property, which has been vacant for over 40 years, consists of 15 separate parcels totaling 14 acres. Most of the property is the remnant of the now defunct 1970s Urban Renewal Plan and is located adjacent to a former gasworks property. In addition there’s a vacant 1937 terminal building that’s been uninhabited for almost 30 years and a beat-up slab of concrete constituting a former ferry landing. Admittedly, these hardly sound like value-adds.
Fortunately, the members of the State and City teams that worked to bring Stone to Richmond (RVA as it’s known to locals) went to great lengths to open our eyes to the possibilities that existed in the property. Allow us to explain. The new home for our brewery is actually where a residential neighborhood now known as Historic Fulton existed several generations ago. Following flood damage in the early ‘70s, the entire neighborhood was demolished as part of a well-intentioned yet ultimately ill-conceived attempt at urban renewal. Although the plan had been for immediate, neighborhood-wide rebuilding, the area was instead left to languish, unused, for decades (click here for a TV news story on the neighborhood's story). Given all this, one can’t help but wonder why we’re so ecstatic about laying down stakes at such a neglected area of an otherwise vibrant city. It’s because, in conjunction with the State, City of Richmond and the neighborhood now known as the Greater Fulton community, we see serious opportunity there…and not just where brewing is involved. “Greater Fulton, and specifically Historic Fulton, has been living on a dream deferred since the 1970s—promises made at a very dark period of loss and destruction that gave people hope that someday they might return to a renewed and rebuilt neighborhood where they would continue to live and grow with the neighbors and friends with whom they lived their whole lives. Those promises were never realized, leaving the area without basic services such as a school or grocery store for decades,” says Richmond City Councilmember Cynthia Newbile. “Now that the City has shown the interest and commitment to this community by investing in the future of Stone Brewing’s eastern brewing and distribution center, it feels like those dreams and promises may finally be coming true after 40 years of waiting and hoping.”
We circulated our Request for Proposals in early 2014 for an east-of-the-Mississippi location for Stone, asking communities interested in housing our Eastern U.S. facility to submit potential sites to us. Without the RFP method we used, we may never have learned about this site, nor might the City have learned about us! When the City of Richmond reviewed our RFP, they saw the chance for something extraordinary. In us, they recognized a private enterprise their public agency could partner with to accomplish something that neither entity could do on its own: plant the first seeds of resurgence for this portion of the Greater Fulton community. The City and Commonwealth urged us to review the location, explained their vision, and ultimately got us on board with their grand plan for the area. Now that we’ve come to mutual agreement about the plan for housing our East Coast headquarters in Richmond, we are all looking forward to getting to work and starting the process of refurbishing and revitalizing the area while honoring its historic significance. The awesome, hard-working, proud and friendly people we meet more of every day constantly tell us how excited they are about it as well. See, this isn’t just about us. The advent of Stone Brewing Richmond humbly represents the beginning of a new and special chapter for this part of the community. In this public/private partnership, we will be providing a hub which other construction—homes, hotels, restaurants, stores, public event venues and more—can build out from to bring new life and a brighter future to this entire end of town. “There is already renewed interest in Greater Fulton, and Stone’s presence only enhances that interest,” says Juliellen Sarver, a resident who posted a heartwarming video welcoming Stone to Richmond on social media. “I anticipate that job opportunities will be made available to local residents, that we will finally get the services that we so desperately need—like a grocery store, improved sidewalks, better bus access and maybe even a school, eventually—and that our community will be treated with respect after so many years of disrespect. Personally, I look forward to new people moving to the community and breathing new life into it. I also look forward to being able to walk and ride my bike to the James River and Virginia Capital Trail on trails, sidewalks and crossings that connect Greater Fulton to the river.”
“There is already a synergy developing that makes the community proud of Stone locating in Fulton,” says Dru Gillie, President of the Fulton Hill Community Association. “More people and the resulting jobs will invigorate small business in the Greater Fulton business corridor, thus spurring more growth. Growth will compound as the cycle continues to instill more pride for the residents, create more small businesses and create more growth. Greater Fulton needed Stone to be here.” Like us, the City of Richmond and Commonwealth of Virginia are eager about this opportunity to give the Greater Fulton community the care, attention and investment it, quite frankly, has been in need of for some time. Neither the City nor the State was at liberty to channel funds into the area without the ability for it to be a sustainable investment. In order to do that, they needed a viable business, a private partner (us), so they could invest revitalization funds into the construction of a business center that Stone would then be able to utilize as a base of operation.
In doing so, we’ll pay back the City’s initial investment of $31 million in general obligation bonds through lease payments on the property (with interest). It’s similar to how developers “build to suit” on properties then lease space to businesses, except developers do it to grow their profits, whereas the government isn’t looking to turn a profit for profit’s sake. They’re looking to increase the value of neighborhoods and the lives of their citizens. For them, the return on investment will come in the form of community revitalization, creation of jobs, and generation of sales tax and other tax revenue brought about, not only by us coming to the Greater Fulton community, but by other businesses following suit. Additionally, we will use $7 million in Commonwealth and local grants to help finance infrastructure necessary to help revitalize the Greater Fulton community, including the related riverfront. Those grants were provided based on Stone matching those funds and providing a minimum of 288 jobs. All in all, we’ll be spending at least $41 million on infrastructure, equipment, furniture and fixtures in the brewery and restaurant. We’re in this together and we wouldn’t have it any other way. “Nearly every locality along the East Coast pursued Stone, knowing what a wonderful impact it would have on their community,” says Lee Downey, Director of Economic and Community Development for the City of Richmond. “The final incentive package made it possible for Stone to choose this site in Richmond with a sound business decision while creating a positive impact for the City by generating new tax revenues and creating nearly 300 jobs in the city. In addition, the project provides a catalyst for positive development in an important community in Richmond. We are a city of creativity, partnership and community; all aspects that Stone embraces. The new brewery and bistro will have a tremendous positive effect in an area along the river that has not enjoyed the renewed development that many other parts of our city have in recent years. The City, the community and the local neighborhood are excited for the future.”
The view from the roof of the Terminal Building to the slab of asphalt and concrete that Stone will transform into a beautiful publicly accessible garden.
Adds Councilmember Newbile, “The prospect of jobs and investment bringing people to discover the rich history and vibrant community will combine to make Greater Fulton a more desirable place for people to visit, live and work. It’s about time!” We may be new to the struggles of our new neighbors, but we agree that the time has come for change and are ready to contribute to that through more than investments and beer. We’re proud to have made major, positive impacts as active members of the community at our home base in San Diego County, California. When we first fired up the brew kettle in 1996, we didn’t realize that getting into the craft beer business would allow us to make such a difference on so many fronts—charity drives and fundraisers, vocational training and growing employment, the Slow Food movement and support of local farmers, and, of course, the craft brewing revolution—but thankfully, we have been able to make significant contributions on all those fronts. Over the past 18 years, our company and our people (we call ourselves Team Stone) have contributed a great deal of our personal and collective effort, resources, time, funds and energy to helping people in need and supporting those who focus their energies on making our world a better place to live. We’ve also invested every bit of our profits back into our growth and, as a result, our community, while also raising significant funds to support local charities (to the tune of nearly $3 million). This core component of our belief system will not be lost during our cross-country trek. This is one of the reasons we were so selective when searching for a place to call home. We needed a locale that wasn’t only feasible from a business standpoint, but a special place that felt right where we could make a real difference, as well. “The approach that Stone seems to take is one of civic responsibility while having a good time doing it,” says Gillie. “They have embraced the history of the area and spent time in the community meeting residents. They are sensitive to what goes into being a good neighbor, from the design of the building to what people see when they drive through the area, to the experience the residents will have with them as neighbors. Stone wants to bring it all together as a positive experience for all involved. Stone is going to bring Greater Fulton along on its ride to success as it builds and grows in the neighborhood, combining manufacturing, history and the future.”
The view from across the James River to the Terminal Building and concrete dock. Envision trees, boulders and green landscaping as well as big windows in the building instead of the existing concrete block.
Stone Brewing Richmond is a year from becoming a reality, but as a company that’s done a lot of rapid growing since 1996, we know our new brewery will be up and running before we know it. We look forward to serving the Greater Fulton community, Richmond and Stone fans all over the Eastern U.S. It’s an exciting time for us and we appreciate that so many are sharing in that excitement. In closing, we’d like to say thank you to all the amazing political, business and community leaders, local citizens, and our brothers and sisters in craft beer who have opened their doors and rolled out the proverbial red carpet for us, with special thanks to the folks that took the extra step to send us letters and say the kind words listed below, making us even more enthused for this next step…we can’t wait to start brewing on the East Coast!
Reprinted with permission
Reprinted with permission
Reprinted with permission
[Stone]’s decision to place a brewery in Richmond really puts Virginia on the map.
—Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 14, 2014
[Richmond is already] one of the coolest cities…we’re about to get a whole lot cooler.
—City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones
Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 9, 2014
I’m ecstatic about it. It’s nice for our cool factor, but it’s great for our bottom line.
— City Council President Charles Samuels
Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 12, 2014
It just shows that Virginia is a good place for beer, and people are interested in good beer. I think people are going to hear more about Stone and what they are doing and hopefully bring more people into craft beer that aren’t necessarily aware of it. It’s a big win for the state of Virginia to show that Virginia is business-friendly and we can attract people from outside Virginia.
—Tim Bornholtz, Adventure Brewing Co.
Fredericksburg.com, October 15, 2014
Stone isn't one of those breweries that's going to come in and try to squash the small, local breweries. They're still a craft brewery and know their roots.
—Chris Ray, Center of the Universe Brewing Co.
ABC 8 News, October 10, 2014
Competition is good. It allows you to diversify and become original with the brews you're putting out.
—Kory Mohr, Owner, VABeerTrail.net
ABC 8 News, October 10, 2014
Everyone should raise a glass of something and say three cheers to Stone for coming to Richmond. It will help position us as a craft beer destination and folks will come to enjoy Stone but then enjoy the other breweries as well.
—Erin Bagnell, Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau
CBS 6, October 10, 2014
All the ships are going to rise with the tide once [Stone comes] in. Stone is going to bring a massive amount of beer tourism. People are going to travel from all over the East Coast to visit Stone, and hopefully they'll visit us too.
—Michael Blevins, Trapezium Brewery
Richmond BizSense, December 8, 2014
More on Stone Brewing Richmond…
- CBS 6 News: Richmond neighborhood braces for beer boon as Stone Brewing Co. decision nears—August 26, 2014
- Richmond.com: Richmond is getting Stone Brewing Co. AND a restaurant, too—October 7, 2014
- ABC 8 News: What could Stone Brewing Co. project cost area taxpayers?—October 10, 2014
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: Richmond will recoup most of $31M investment in Stone brewery, officials say—October 18, 2014
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: Stone executive says incentives were key to Richmond Deal—October 23, 2014
- Richmond Times-Dispatch: How Stone Brewing was sold on Richmond—November 1, 2014
- Richmond.com: Will Richmond like Stone Brewing beers?—November 6, 2014