Lewes Brewing Company will be coming to the First Town in the near future.
Lewes Mayor and City Council voted unanimously Oct. 11 to approve the site plan for the brewery planned for 1145 Savannah Road near the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail crossing at the edge of the city.
Owners Christine and Dave Jones have been working with the city for nearly a year, seeking annexation of the parcel into the city, then working with the Board of Public Works to have utilities extended to the property.
The plan is to use the four existing buildings on the 0.63-acre parcel. The brewery operation and tasting room will be in the westernmost building on the site. The building that was most recently used as a resale shop is planned for offices, while two buildings on the east side of the property will be used for storage.
At a meeting in August, Doug Warner of Element Design said the brewery will likely have an industrial look. Large windows are planned for the west wall of the building that would display the brewery’s tanks to those driving into town or using the Lewes-to-Georgetown Trail. The outside of the building’s existing west wall once had a large advertisement for Delaware Realty, but that has recently been painted over.
Plans show an L-shaped bar with space for about 15 people. A small indoor seating area would be complemented with an outdoor patio. The patio would be the only new addition to the building.
Due to the small size of the parcel and existing buildings, the plan provides just 12 parking spaces. Per city code, only nine are required. Members of the public and the city’s joint site development committee shared concerns about limited parking.
In recent weeks, owners have been working with the adjacent property owner on an arrangement to use its parking lot after hours.
There is not enough space in the building for a kitchen, so owners will likely invite a food truck to the brewery during peak times.
Councilman Tim Ritzert said he was concerned about having a food truck on the site with limited parking availability. Janelle Cornwell, the city’s planning and development coordinator, said there are no restrictions on food trucks within the general commercial zone, but they cannot use an existing onsite parking space, or park on a city street or in a fire lane. Cornwell said there appears to be space on the site plan for a food truck, although council does not have authority to deny a plan based solely on that issue.
Overall, Ritzert said, he’s supportive of the plan, saying it could bring positive change and energy to one of the gateways of Lewes.
Councilman Khalil Saliba has visited small breweries in Delaware and around the country, and he believes Lewes Brewing Company will be a great addition.
“They really add a lot to a community’s culture,” he said. “Small breweries have become really interesting gathering places. They’re similar to coffee shops.”
Deputy Mayor Andrew Williams applauded the owners for rehabilitating the property instead of demolishing the existing buildings. He said he’s also impressed with the Jones’ emotional attachment to the project and their willingness to work with the community.
“They’ve been amenable to the challenges and work toward solutions as they come up,” he said.
Fancy Pants site plan approved
Lewes Mayor and City Council also unanimously approved the site plan for a mixed-use project at 820 Kings Highway. Maureen Eschbach of Fancy Pants Holdings LLC is planning to construct a two-story building on the site of her existing women’s boutique Aquamarine. The new building will have 1,200 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 1,200 square feet split among two apartments on the second floor.
Council applauded the plan to include affordable housing.
“It didn’t get a lot of attention at the public hearing, but they’re going to have two apartments on top,” said Councilman Khalil Saliba. “Any time a community like ours can produce more affordable housing or just any kind of small apartments, I think that’s a big plus.”
One aspect of the plan that has drawn criticism is the lack of sidewalks along Kings Highway. Mayor Ted Becker said that while the applicant’s approval from the Delaware Department of Transportation did not include sidewalks, they are likely on the horizon when Kings Highway is redeveloped in the future.
“It seemed to be a bit unusual there wasn’t a sidewalk laid out for this project,” he said. “We know DelDOT is planning to connect out to at least the high school.”
Councilman Tim Ritzert serves as council liaison to the Historic Lewes Scenic Byway Committee and said DelDOT is in the design phase for Kings Highway improvements. Sidewalks will be added in front of this project at some point, he said.
“It’s not going to be an option,” he said. “It’s going to be done.”