The first time Greg Snow and others visited the Hamilton-owned brick building at 514 Maple Ave., which used to be a substation for the city’s electric utility, he loved the industrial building.
But he thought, “This is way out of the way. There’s nothing going to be over here.”
Now he believes there will be a lot more happening on the relatively quiet Maple Avenue, which is one of the few east-west streets south of High Street that directly connect Martin Luther King Boulevard with Ohio 4.
He and two partners, Ryan Harper and Matthew Seto, plan to start a microbrewery with a still that will be called Amp House Brewing they believe will be a good fit for the 86-year-old building that’s on the Ohio Historic Inventory and is about a block southeast of the McDonald’s restaurant at High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Snow’s thoughts came around as progress was made on the immense under-construction Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill indoor sports complex, which is to be the country’s largest by square footage. It’s expected to draw 10,000 or more athletes and their families to the city on some weekends.
One reason their company, Great Miami Brewing Co. LLC, decided to invest $1.5 million in the building, was city leaders’ promise they planned to work to develop the street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Ohio 4.
“They told us that they’ve really got aggressive plans for developing that Maple Avenue section,” Snow said. “So my partners and I are just totally thrilled with what’s going on in Hamilton, and what’s going on, especially on Maple Avenue.”
The city’s development director, Jody Gunderson, said there already has been progress along Maple, with City Council recently voting to move the historic train station that was built in the 19th century by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad and now is located along the CSX railroad tracks. The city plans to move the station’s two buildings to 409 Maple Ave.
Gunderson also noted K&R Lawn & Landscaping has improved the appearance along the street at and near its building, at 611 Maple Ave.
“It’s kind of like some of the plans we have for other areas of the city,” Gunderson said. “With the train station being moved to the location that is close to their project, you’ve got a landscaping project down the road from that. We’ve had some nice, organic things happen, with Maple. No pun intended.”
“We’re also looking at that as opportunities arise with that corridor,” Gunderson said.
K&R has “done a great job with the property they’ve acquired there, and it’s a nice little setup on Maple,” Gunderson said. “With some of these projects, we’re going to build on each one of the successes that we have within this corridor.”
The city recently has expanded its focus from the successes it has had filling storefronts along High and Main streets, and now is working on areas such as Pleasant Avenue in Lindenwald; Heaton Street in the North End; and areas of the Second Ward, also known as Riverview.
As the city has begun what likely will be slow progress toward creating ‘North Hamilton Crossing,’ a combination of new roads and bridges over the Great Miami River and the CSX tracks to alleviate congestion on High and Main streets, city Manager Joshua Smith has said the city needs to find less-costly solutions in the meantime that help traffic move east-west.
Another big factor that encouraged the micro-brewery decision was the city’s decision to move the train station close to the electric-substation building, Snow said. That historic station that was the site of visits by presidents Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, but also by Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.
“My wife and I drove by it a bunch of times, and she said, ‘Wouldn’t that be a perfect brewery?’” Snow said. But he said, “Yeah, but you’re into it $4 million before you pour your first beer. There’s no way. And look at it. It’s in the middle of a gravel field with railroad tracks. How do customers get to it?”
As it turns out, “They’re moving it right across the street from our new brewery,” Snow said. “It’s tailor-made for what we would consider to be our second location.”
“This is a very important corridor with a lot of potential,” said Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s director of planning.
Brandon Saurber, director of the city’s Neighborhoods Development Department, added: “This is a key corridor that is becoming more and more important. The pending move of the historic train depot to Maple Ave. adds another asset.”
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