Austin Brother’s to receive loan from Brownfield fund

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The City of Alpena Authority for Brownfield Redevelopment board voted to approve a loan for approximately $35,000 to Austin Brothers Beer Company for water and sewer upgrades at the brewery. It is a one year loan. Seated from left to right are Jim Klarich, Mike Mahler, Joe Garber, Mike Glowski and Mayor Matt Waligora.

ALPENA — Austin Brother’s Beer Company is going to receive a loan for about $35,000 from the City of Alpena Brownfield Remediation Fund to make needed improvements to its water and sewer system. The brownfield redevelopment board voted to approve the loan at a meeting Monday.

The brewery has had issues with its plumbing since it opened and now that the city has installed new service lines near the building, owners Brandt Austin and Blake Austin intend to use the money to cover the cost to tap into them. It will repay the fund with monthly payments to the city beginning on May 1.

City Manager Sundin explained to the board the challenges the business has endured due to substandard infrastructure. He said having the brewery tap into the new pipes would remedy the issue.

“They have had ongoing problems and it has been nothing but a headache,” Sundin said. “There have been people out from the water department on a weekly basis and sometimes more.”

The sewer line in particular is an issue because it is an undersized pipe and tends to get plugged. Sundin said the water line is insufficient and when the brewery is filling its tanks, there are pressure issues in other parts of the business.

The sewer line from the brewery to the main line already has been installed and paid for out of the city’s sewer fund. The funds will be repaid to it from the brownfield remediation fund when final costs is established.

This is the second loan Austin Brothers has been approved for from the authority. In 2014 the brewery borrowed about $13,000 to help cover the cost of a phase II environmental assessment. Sundin said because the project was just beginning, payments for that loan were deferred until this year and the first payment is due in July. He said Austin Brothers has become a popular place for people to eat, have a beverage in the city and there are indications there could be more projects on the horizon.

“They have seen growth and are looking to expand, especially this coming year,” he said. “They have been very good for the city.”

Currently the brownfield remediation fund has $211,000 in it, Sundin said. He also provided an update on other brownfield projects in the city.

Sundin said Dean Arbour Ford still has a balance of $23,800 and an additional $15,000 in interest. He said its tax abatement will be paid off at the end of 2018 and the brownfield loan at the end of 2020.

The loan for remediation of the Holiday Inn Express property is not scheduled for repayment yet and will not be paid off until 2024.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.

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