Brotherwell Brewing

David Stoneking and Jacob Martinka of Brotherwell Brewing won board approval for $216,863 in TIF funds to renovate the old Rubel Junk building in East Waco and add sidewalks and landscaping.

The downtown Tax Increment Financing Zone board approved more than $4 million in development assistance Monday for a big hotel project, a bank and a startup East Waco brewery.

The lion’s share — more than $3.5 million — will go to West Village at Interstate 35 and Cleveland Avenue, where Shane and Cody Turner plan to create a 9-acre complex of stores, restaurants and two hotels valued at $36.6 million.

A block away, The First National Bank in McGregor got the nod for $301,345 in TIF funds for a two-story downtown bank at South 10th Street and Cleveland Avenue. The bank is planning to invest $3.5 million in the property.

Both West Village and the bank would get infrastructure improvements and lighted, landscaped sidewalks from the downtown fund, with Waco City Council approval.

The TIF program is intended to reverse blight in the core of Waco by reinvesting a portion of downtown property taxes into downtown developments.

Meanwhile, the entrepreneurs behind Brotherwell Brewing are hoping to make a big impact on East Waco with the help of their TIF award of $216,863.

Jacob Martinka and David Stoneking told the TIF board Monday that they plan to create a microbrewery at the old Rubel Junk Co. building at 400 Bridge St., a block off historic Elm Avenue. The TIF funding would allow them to install new storefront windows and a handicap-accessible ramp leading to a tasting room. It would pay for a lighted, tree-shaded sidewalk on Bridge Street and around the corner on Factory Street, connecting with Elm Avenue. The board also approved the applicants’ request for a decorative perimeter fence for the property at a cost of about $10,000, which staff had not recommended.

Stoneking said the tasting room and periodic events at the brewery would be a magnet for the neglected Elm Avenue corridor, though the business won’t live or die based on that traffic.

“This is a unique opportunity for us to be an anchor business,” he said. “We can provide a public space that really gets the ball rolling and starts to open up that area.”

The Rubel building is within a block or two of Lula Jane’s Bakery and the future ArtPlace, Milo restaurant and Pokey-O’s ice cream shop.

In an interview between a TIF board tour of the brewery site and the official meeting, Martinka and Stoneking explained their plans for the 5,400-square-foot building.

“We bit off more than we could chew at our first stab at it,” Martinka said. “So we’ve been paring it back to find the right balance between what we really want to do and what we feasibly can do.”

The partners plan to spend $180,000 on a system that can make 15 barrels, or 475 gallons, at a time, and will be prepared to expand as needed.

Initially, they plan to brew about 30 barrels a week, supplying kegs to local bars and restaurants while running their own tasting room three days a week.

“We’re hoping our customers will be every bar in Waco,” Martinka said. “We’ll start off small.”

The partners, who share a friendship and an interest in homebrewing, have been trying to get started in the business for several years but only recently acquired adequate financing of about $400,000.

They are planning to rent the Bridge Street space from property owner Sam Brown.

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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