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Bill Austin presents the conceptual building design for The Alchemist new brewery and retail center at the Stowe DRB hearing, last Tuesday (06.17.14) at the Stowe Town Hall.
Last Tuesday, Austin Design staff Bill Austin, Peter Webster, and Rich Holschuh made the 165-mile trek due northward to Stowe, Vermont. As the architects for The Alchemist Brewery’s new facility, we were presenting at the town’s Design Review Board hearing for Alchemist founders John and Jen Kimmich’s application to build on Cottage Club Road. This was a re-scheduled meeting to hear the matter; two weeks earlier the hearing was postponed due to a shortage of volunteer board members who were able to attend. The application had engendered quite a bit of discussion among the residents of Stowe, the Kimmich’s hometown, both pro and con – a road the town had been down before. The DRB and the citizenry had handled a similar, but somewhat more substantial, request nearly two years ago with the Trapp Lager Brewery, an expansion of a startup by the von Trapp family, which operates the Trapp Family Lodge in the resort town. That brewery, which will be a 50,000-barrel facility when it reaches full production, won conditional approval from the board on a 6-1 vote.
The Town Hall’s meeting room begins to fill up; it was standing-room only as the proceedings got under way. ADi’s Peter Webster, project manager for The Alchemist’s proposed facility, is at the near left, and ready for action.
By way of an ADi field report on The Alchemist proceedings that evening, following are several excerpted posts made to the beer community through the forums at BeerAdvocate (BA), a high-traffic, user-driven website dedicated to supporting and promoting beer globally. With well over 3 million visitors a month, BeerAdvocate hosts a serious beer rating and review database that has ranked over 100,00 different beers; The Alchemist’s legendary Heady Topper American Double IPA has headed the lists at BA for quite a while and as of this date, it is still earning its moniker, sitting all the way at the top at #1. That’s pretty good.
After the 4-1 affirmative vote: ADi’s Peter Webster (left) and Bill Austin (center) discuss with Construction Manager P. Mark D’Angelo (right).
From the BA forum… here’s the record:
06/18 “We participated in a nearly three-hour-long hearing in a very crowded meeting room at the Stowe Town Hall. I estimate nearly 100 people were in attendance, including consultant/presenters for the Alchemist (of which there about 9 or 10 members of the planning/design team being coordinated by the very capable construction manager P. Mark D’ Angelo), and 5 out of 7 members of the Stowe Design Review Board. There was a great deal of questions and commentary by citizens and a fair amount of discussion amongst the board after the basic presentations had been made by ourselves (Austin Design Inc) and the other consultants, as the DRB worked their way through their required criteria. Finally, at 8:45 a motion was made to approve the application under consideration and it was approved 4-1 on a voice vote.
“As the @StoweToday tweet noted, the next step is for The Alchemist to secure their other permits such as state wastewater and Act 250 land use. This was the critical first step that will send them on their way. We will be posting progress on our Facebook page and our website blog as it continues to brew; please feel free to Like us and follow along! I’m sure the Kimmichs will do likewise: they’re very good at staying connected with their fans, from which a great deal of the resilience of the Heady mystique derives. Good people, good beer, caring, and connectedness. As I mentioned earlier, we are pretty pumped about having this opportunity to work with them – it’s such a pleasure to partner with a client that wants to “do it right.” What else would you expect from John and Jen?
06/20 “The various viewpoints that were offered at the hearing were exactly what one might expect at such a venue and the evening fulfilled its purpose – to allow a thorough presentation of the proposal, an analysis of the impacts, and for the public to express their sundry concerns and/or opinions. Having been involved in many such proceedings as a part of our business, we know that they can elicit strong feelings and reactions. The Design Review Board is charged with documenting all the evidence and weighing it against a very specific set of criteria, and then setting up the parameters to which the applicants will be held accountable. It is important for all parties to remember that this specific instance is not a stand-alone, one-stop procedure; it is built upon a system that includes the Town Plan, the zoning regulations themselves, and many other local and state agency oversights along with their concomitant permit processes. The brewery’s plan are, and will be, in accordance with these requirements and it devolves upon us, as architects, and the other professionals and trades, to do our job with that in mind to ensure the best outcome for all concerned.
“The entire thrust of this undertaking is to create a facility that will deliver a result over and above the [existing Alchemist] cannery in Waterbury; the situation there evolved over time as physical, environmental, legal, and economic situations came to bear on a pre-existing set of constraints. Having an awareness of that knowledge, a conscious and intentional plan can be made which will incorporate and accommodate those considerations and, in the Kimmich’s case, go above and beyond basic performance requirements to provide a higher level of efficiency, experience, and benefit. This is reflective of who they are, personally, and the company values that make their enterprise a standout in the craft brewery business. There is very little comparison to be drawn between the two operations – that is the whole point of launching this process. The product is the same; the circumstances will be entirely different, by design.” End BA forum quotes!
John and Jen Kimmich of The Alchemist (photo from Destination VT)
At this point, having voted for conditional approval, the Stowe Design Review Board will consider the testimony taken at the hearing and issue their specific and binding conditions in writing. The permit itself will be issued shortly; approval at this level is required before proceeding to the state regulatory agencies. If you need to catch up on the back story, you can read the blog entry preceding this which reports our selection as project architects by John and Jen Kimmich, founders of The Alchemist. Stay tuned for further updates here, on our Facebook page and over on Twitter. Cheers!