The city is reviewing a building permit application for the site of Ruby Beach Brewing Co. at 228 E. Forsyth St. Downtown.
The application is for the first phase of what is referred to as the Forsyth Brewery renovation at a cost of $500,000.
Ruby Beach owner Zeta Jax Inc. was the first business approved for a forgivable loan under the Downtown Investment Authority’s new Food and Beverage Retail Enhancement Program.
The board unanimously approved the Downtown brewery for the $75,000 loan June 17 minutes after it voted 8-0 to authorize the food and beverage incentive program.
The public money will help with build-out costs for its taproom, second-floor event room, beer garden and outdoor patio space under development, according to documents filed by the brewery with the DIA.
Zeta Jax Inc. and building owner 228 Forsyth Inc. were co-applicants for the grant. It would cover 22.2% of the $337,100 development cost for phase two of Ruby Beach’s Downtown location, the DIA staff report states.
Zeta Jax President Mark Vandeloo announced the relocation of the brewery from Jacksonville Beach in February. In a June 4 email, he said Ruby Beach will be able to begin brewing at the Downtown location in one to two weeks.
Work on the taproom is “dragging a bit behind,” Vandeloo said, mostly because of permitting approvals. He said he hopes to have it open before NFL preseason football begins in August, “if not sooner.”
Ruby Beach began its move to Downtown last month, according to a May 18 post on its Instagram page.
DIA documents show the $107,900 cost to build-out the brewery, phase one of the project, is not included in the $75,000 request for incentives.
The food and beverage incentive award will be used for the phase two costs of the taproom, patio and event space, according to the DIA term sheet.
To meet the program requirements, landlord 228 Forsyth Inc., led by President Chris Hionides, will contribute $286,500 in phase two costs and Zeta Jax will cover $75,000.
Ruby Beach is leasing the 5,347-square-foot Downtown building, formerly The Letter Shop, from Hionides’s company Petra. It was built in 1904 and is a contributing structure to Jacksonville’s Downtown National Register District.
The DIA project summary shows 1,278 square feet of the first floor will be used for the brewing facility, with 1,278 square feet for the taproom.
A 440-square-foot outdoor beer garden will be added to the east side of the building, according to project renderings.
Upstairs, a 2,557-square-foot meeting space will be used for weddings, art shows, pop-up markets and family and corporate events, Ruby Beach owners told the DIA.
Ruby Beach will employ “a minimum” of 13 people Downtown.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer proposed the food and beverage incentive program in January. It’s designed to fill vacant first-floor commercial space and target businesses wanting to relocate or open in The Elbow and Hogan-Laura streets corridors Downtown.
Boyer said she wants the program to create two “distinct character corridors” on the Northbank.
Daily Record Editor Karen Brune Mathis contributed to this report.
By: Mike Mendenhall