A Look Inside Stone Brewing

One advantage of having a dad who is in construction is that he sometimes has some inside knowledge on the latest developments around the city. I spoke with my father, Mark Hourigan, of Hourigan Construction. I asked questions and even visited the jobsite of the soon to be hot spot in Rockett’s Landing.

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Photo by Richmond Times Dispatch.

It all began when a brewery headquartered in Escondido, California, Stone Brewing, expressed interest in building a new production and distribution facility this past year. This announcement certainly made a wave in the commercial construction world, the project being quite a big opportunity for publicity. The response to this announcement was overwhelming and wide-spanning among cities across the country. Over 300 cities replied to this request, but ultimately Richmond was chosen over all the other cities. Stone created a modeling program to help with the decision process that was based on city attributes, transportation infrastructure, and location. Richmond met all the criteria.

The brewing company chose from a pool of 300 cities vying for the opportunity to house one of the most up-and-coming breweries in the nation. After choosing where the brewery would be located, Stone then offered the opportunity to seven firms in the area, all of which were asked to submit a proposal to the pool of options. Three of the seven firms were “short-listed” and selected to interview for the job; essentially the call-backs of the construction world. From there, Stone eventually made their final decision, choosing the company they did for both the caliber and quality of their submitted proposal along with their impressive track record with the city. In the late spring of 2015, Hourigan Construction broke ground on the project.

Stone Brewery is set to be up and running in January of the coming year, though the brewery will not begin brewing in the facility until April 1st of 2016. There will be 200,000 square feet of space for office, retail, beer production, and distribution; There will also be 54 large fermentation tanks on the exterior of the building.

A look at the 52 fermentation tanks in their early construction. Photo by circle S studio

A look at the 52 fermentation tanks in their early construction. Photo by circle S studio

The project involves somewhere between 500-600 people working on location at the jobsite, as well as hundreds of others that will be involved in and supporting the project from the office. This project has already impacted the city a great deal, gaining both positive and negative response and feedback. Despite issues and problems that have arisen, this project will likely make RVA one of the top tourist destinations for craft beer brewers and enthusiasts. Stone Brewing is the third largest tourist attraction in San Diego, behind the San Diego Zoo and Legoland®, and is the largest brewery in Southern California. These stats suggest very positive things for Richmond as the site of the new brewery. In addition to an influx in tourism, it is anticipated that other craft brewers will follow Stone’s lead and head to RVA. The partnering Stone Brewing restaurant is expected to be constructed in the next two or three years, as it is “stage 2” of the project.

Don’t be fooled by the articles and feature stories that speak excitedly and reflect the new brewery in only a good light, for there was a group of people in the early stages of the process that were not in support of the project. Early on, around the time of the project’s announcement, there was a good deal of pushback by the City Council. Stone intentionally sought out a site where the brewery could and would serve as a catalyst for redevelopment; however, this added a few challenges to both the design and cost of the project. Once the City Council understood all aspects of the deal, they carried forward with project as planned.

Stone Brewing aims to impact Richmond in a positive way; they want to be the catalyst of an ongoing series of positive changes made to the city, and by the looks of it, they have already begun to do so. They will add in excess of 300 full-time jobs and hundreds of additional jobs during the design and construction of the project.

 

A Hourigan trailer onsite at the project jobsite. Photo by Grace Hourigan

A Hourigan trailer onsite at the project jobsite. Photo by Grace Hourigan

Considering the positive impact Richmond has already seen from being the sight of the new brewery, I think it is safe to say that we can expect more positive influence from the Stone Brewing RVA branch in the future.

“These deals are critical to economic vitality of a region.” -Mark Hourigan

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About the author

Grace Hourigan is a senior at Collegiate.