The old creamery building in Hendricks, vacant for 30 years, is due for a facelift. Jason Markkula has plans to rehabilitate the decayed but solid structure and put a microbrewery in it.
Markkula has already rehabilitated another historic structure in Hendricks when he turned the old bank building into a hunting lodge back in 2009.
"The beer company revolved around a dare," Markkula said. "We were sitting around my new hunting lodge and we wanted to build a brand of beer to give back to wildlife conservation."
The result was the Bank Brewing Company. Part of the profits from two of the company's brands, Walleye Chop and Rooster Lager, go to Pheasants Forever to buy land for wildlife areas with matching funds from donors, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bank Brewing brands are currently brewed in Cold Spring and at the Brau Brothers brewery in Lucan. Now Markkula wants the company to have its own brewery.
"We've always talked about how the creamery building would be a great place to have a brewery. It's such a visible landmark in Hendricks and it deserves to be restored," Markkula said.
The creamery was acquired by Hendricks Farmers Lumber which formed a limited liability corporation last fall with help from the Lincoln County Enterprise Development Corporation, called the Hendricks Historic Creamery LLC.
Vince Robinson, enterprise facilitator of Lincoln County EDC, said there are currently two grant applications for funds to rehabilitate the historic structure.
One is a redevelopment grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) for $57,000.
"If approved it will assist with part of the demolition of the damaged portions of the building and asbestos removal," Robinson said.
The second grant application was for funds from the federal Small Cities Development Program administered through DEED, to be used for a number of projects around Hendricks. Of these funds, $40,000 would be used to assist in updating the doors, windows and insulation of the creamery building.
Robinson said he expects decisions on the grant applications in the first week of April and mid-May.
"In the meantime we continue to work with interested investors, the Hendricks EDA, and Lincoln County," Robinson said.
Hendricks City Administrator David Blees said there is a lot of local support for the project.
"I think it's been overwhelming," Blees said. "From the city's standpoint we like the idea of rehabilitating the building and getting business in there."
The brewery should generate from three to five new jobs right away and possibly more after the first year, according to Blees.
"Hopefully we'll be brewing in the creamery in 2014," Markkula said.