Downtown revitalization plans underway in Burlington

BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Funding efforts are nearly complete to start construction on a new cooperative brewery and restaurant.

Burlington Beer Works is unique in that local neighbors and potentially future customers can become part owners.

One of the founders and board member Eric Henry said approximately 1,600 people have invested already. Two-thousand members are needed to start construction plans of the three levels of the business.

"When you write that check for $100 you become part owner of Burlington Beer Works," Henry said.

The brewery and restaurant's vision and mission statement is to "create a community-owned social hub in downtown Burlington by establishing a family-friendly business downtown to serve high-quality food and beer. Founded on the purpose of inspiring local beer, supporting local farmers and reinvesting in downtown Burlington."

Henry said board members are already connecting with local farmers for the farm-to-fork food experience.

Henry said his fellow board members are a diverse group of community leaders from Elon University staff, accountants and a brew master from Germany.

The beauty of this co-op business, however, is that anyone can become an equal part owner supporting the effort to restore Burlington's downtown scene.

"This is the next piece of that puzzle that will bring life and community to our downtown," Henry said.

Jessica Pasion, with Burlington Downtown Corporation, said they are working closely with the board and plan to present an update to city council to take advantage of a state grant.

"It's a grant opportunity that we've never pursued before to receive some funding for building reuse through the North Carolina Department of Commerce," Pasion said. "Last we've checked there are only three of these in the nation of its kind and it's because it's a local cooperative and restaurant as well."

Amy Nelson, director of planning and community development, said this is the first step of a master plan for the entire city with the Maple Street Corridor.

On March 21, council voted to hire Total Design Group, a constituting firm with offices in Maryland and Spartanburg, South Carolina.

There will be public input meeting to involve neighbors in the prices of the plan to make improvements, landscaping and business recruitment.

Nelson explains Maple Street leads into the heart of downtown and is in "serious need of revitalization."

Burlington will spend $148,000 for the consultant firm's assistance.

Burlington Beer Works is a $1.8 million project.