After a few years of explosive growth in its beer sales, Geaghan’s Pub and Craft Brewery is looking to expand its Bangor location by purchasing almost an acre from the city, which could allow it to add a new brewing building, as well as more parking and outdoor seating.
On Monday night, the Bangor City Council authorized the local business to purchase 0.78 acres just south of the Main Street restaurant. If Geaghan’s goes forward with the deal, the agreement would also allow it to receive a partial tax reimbursement over the next decade if it makes $2 million in improvements within two years.
It could also also end up closing the 3,600-square foot production space it opened in Brewer in 2015 and consolidating the brewing operation in the Bangor location, according to co-owner Andrew Geaghan.
But the company still has not made any final decisions about what it will do with the land, partly because its development plans would require additional approval from the city, Geaghan said.
“We will likely be, in time, moving our brewing operations to a more efficient and sustainable facility,” he said. “We hope this purchase might allow for that. We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our energy use and business efficiency — things that go to the bottom line. But we’re hopeful the forever home for our brewery will be a place that’s very efficient.”
The proposed expansion comes after Geaghan Brothers Brewing Co. grew its beer production by more than seven times between 2014 and 2016, from about 700 barrels to 5,000 barrels annually, according to Geaghan. Since then, its production has leveled off to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels a year.
The family operation first opened 45 years ago as Geaghan’s Roundhouse Restaurant and Lounge in the back of the business that’s now the Fireside Inn and Suites on Main Street.
The city-owned land next to the pub used to be the site of a so-called roundhouse where locomotives from the nearby railroad could be turned around and stored. But the land, which follows the Penobscot River between Dutton Street and Interstate 395, has been undeveloped for years. In the summer of 2018, the city made an effort to clear a homeless encampment there by cutting down the trees and thick overgrowth that covered it.
The land that Geaghan’s Pub and Brewing may purchase takes up just a small section of the nearly 5-acre parcel. Under the proposal that the Bangor City Council authorized Monday night, the parent company of Geaghan’s now has the option to buy the 0.78 acres for $50,000. If it goes forward with the deal, it would also agree to invest $2 million into the site within two years and, in return, the city would reimburse half of the property taxes for the next decade on any new taxable value that’s created by the improvements.
Based on information that Geaghan’s has provided about its plans, the city has estimated that it could end up needing to reimburse approximately $6,842.50 of the $13,685 in new annual property taxes that are generated by the project each year — or a total rebate of $68,425 over the next decade, according to Tanya Emery, Bangor’s director of community and economic development.
The deal would help the city by spurring job creation, developing unused land and growing the overall tax base, Emery said. Although the city would provide a rebate, it would still hold onto more than $20,000 in annual property taxes from the company.
A committee of city councilors discussed the proposal during a closed-door executive session last week. While they did not vote on it, they agreed to bring it to the full City Council this week, according to City Manager Cathy Conlow.
Before Geaghan’s would be able to take over the land, it would have to receive all necessary approvals from the city, provide evidence of construction financing, secure any other necessary permits and meet other conditions set by the city, according to an agenda of Monday night’s meeting.