Last night, Tuesday, December 13, 2016, Hyperion Brewing Company officially became the second brewery to receive approval to open on Main Street in the Springfield National Historic District. With a Jacksonville city counsel vote consisting of 18 yeas and one nay, the brewery helmed by Alexandra McKeown and brewer Troy Orton will open at 1740 Main Street.
As I have noted in the past, this is exactly the type of business needed to help revitalize the Main Street Business District and bring other, quality businesses to the area. Time after time other cities have seen breweries bring enormous boosts to areas in need of restoration.
And, I am not the only one that says breweries bring gentrification. James Fallows, a freelance writer who, and his wife Deborah spent three years working on a project for The Atlantic that sought to find out what factors lead to the success of American cities following the Recession of 2007-2008. In the article, Fallows created a list of items that indicated a city was bouncing back. The final item on his list is of particular interest to beer-lovers.
“One final marker,” Fallows wrote. “Perhaps the most reliable: A city on the way back will have one or more craft breweries… A town that has craft breweries also has a certain kind of entrepreneur, and a critical mass of mainly young customers.”
Fallows was not the only advocate for craft breweries as economic engines for change. An article in USA Today published July 6, 2016 cites multiple examples of how craft breweries improved down-trodden and undesirable neighborhoods.
“The arrival of a craft brewery,” the article stated. “Was also often one of the first signs that a neighborhood was changing.”
One example cited by the article is the story of how Great Lakes Brewing Company transformed the downtown Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio from a decaying district, “Marred by abandoned buildings and boarded-up stores,” to a thriving market district complete with a renovated market, specialty shops, bars and restaurants.
The examples of what a craft brewery can do for a neighborhood are even visible right here in Jacksonville. To provide proof of the benefit craft breweries can have on a neighborhood at a Land Use and Zoning committee meeting, I looked at property values in the Silvertown neighborhood of Jacksonville where Intuition Ale Works maintains a brewery and Bold City Brewing Company has both a brewery and a tap room.
The results of my informal and unscientific study showed a staggering 18% increase in property values over the past eight years. It also showed an increase in home renovations and property sales. This is significant because Bold City opened in 2008 — eight years ago — followed by Intuition in 2010.
With Main & Six Brewing Company and now Hyperion Brewing Company coming within just a block of each other, Main Street is poised for rapid growth. This growth can only serve to increase property values for long-suffering Springfield residents who, though the neighborhood is growing and attracting younger families and professionals, have longed for a catalyst to spark the rejuvenation of the Main Street shopping district.
Only time will tell if the addition of Hyperion and Main & Six breweries will foster more interest in Main Street from other businesses. But, if the examples of other urban neighborhoods holds true, things are definitely looking up. In the meantime, Springfield residents will soon have the benefit of being able to walk to their own local breweries. And that ain’t bad.