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Developers have cleared the first hurdle with approval of a zoning change needed in order to build the Elizabeth Brewing Co. in the historic Carson Building at 239 S. Main St.
“The town commissioners approved the request to rezone the building to a planned unit development in January,” said Grace Erickson, Elizabeth community development director. “The proposal is to place the brewery on the first floor and to have a tap room on the second floor using the historic bar that is in place.”
The Carson Building was constructed in the 1890s. Not a lot of information about the building's history is available. Research information from the Elizabeth Library indicates the building had a variety of uses. For example, it was the Watt and Worthinham General Merchandise store that also sold farm machinery. It was also once home to the Elizabeth Library. Johnny Briggs, one of the owners, said his research indicates that in the 1960s and 1970s it was home to artist George Carlson, a sculptor with his studio on the main floor. Later it was a coffee shop, bar and, at one time, it was the offices of the Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce.
Briggs, a member of the development group, said his brother Tony is an Elizabeth resident who wanted to create a micro-brewery in his hometown.
“Tony has talked about this for a while and we decided the Carson Building would be a good location, so we moved ahead with the proposal,” Briggs, an Army captain stationed in Afghanistan, said by phone. “The Carson Building was built in the 1890s and it has been a tavern at times, and most recently the Falcon Lounge was on the second floor. We know it is on the register of historic buildings and we want to preserve that heritage.”
He said it is the owners' plan to place the brewery on the first floor and provide a tap room on the second floor. Customers would be able to sample beer from the Elizabeth Brewing Company as well as other beers and a selection of other beverages. The customers will be served at the refurbished bar that was last used as part of the Falcon Lounge.
Johnny Briggs said there are four members in the ownership group and all are present or retired members of the military.
“We are working as a team on this project,” he said. “Right now the plans are being completed that will be submitted to the city for approval, and we have applied for the liquor permit. Once the plans and license are approved, construction will begin with a target of opening in July.”
Mayor Pro Tem Rachel White said she feels the proposal is exciting for the community.
“The proposal for the brewery was presented to the board of trustees when the new owners sought a zoning change to make it possible to move forward with their plans,” she said. “The board approved the zoning change because the proposal meets the standards of the community. I think it will be a big plus for the community and a business that will increase traffic on Main Street and I think might attract visitors from outside our community.”
White said crews are at work refurbishing the building and it appears plans are moving forward to open the first brewery in Elizabeth.
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