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updated: 7/22/2021 6:37 AM

Nearly a decade in the making, Arlington Heights to get its first microbrewery

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  • The property at 19 N. Hickory Ave. in Arlington Heights, as seen in this rendering, is proposed to be renovated into a local brewery called Arlington Beer Co. The project received initial approvals from the village board Wednesday.

    The property at 19 N. Hickory Ave. in Arlington Heights, as seen in this rendering, is proposed to be renovated into a local brewery called Arlington Beer Co. The project received initial approvals from the village board Wednesday.
    Courtesy of village of Arlington Heights

  • A vacant building at 19 N. Hickory Ave. in Arlington Heights is set to be renovated into the taproom of Arlington Beer Co.

    A vacant building at 19 N. Hickory Ave. in Arlington Heights is set to be renovated into the taproom of Arlington Beer Co.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Nearly a decade after first expressing interest in Arlington Heights, the proprietors of a microbrewery on Wednesday received many of the municipal approvals they need for their planned taproom and production operation near Recreation Park.

Arlington Beer Co. still has to return for its liquor license, but the business earned unanimous support from the village board for land use and zoning variations that will allow it to move into two vacant buildings at 19 N. Hickory Ave.

Owner/President Kathleen Egan first came to village officials in 2012 with plans to open a brewery, but was erroneously told by a staff member that beer production was allowed in town. Rules governing microbreweries were finally adopted in 2018.

"Thank you for sticking with us through all the years. I can tell you're very persistent in trying to get here," Trustee Mary Beth Canty told Egan during the board meeting Wednesday night. "We're not the first in the area to try and do this. I think we've seen some of the kinks get worked out. ... It's another sign of us becoming a destination village in the Northwest suburbs."

Arlington Beer Co. plans to operate its public tasting room from a two-story, 2,800-square foot building in the front of the property, and produce its craft beers and sodas from a one-story, 1,100-square-foot building in the back of the site. An outdoor beer garden will have a fireplace, paver block patio, picnic tables, chairs and sofas.

As during prior reviews of the evolving project over the years, some trustees on Wednesday raised parking concerns, since the brewery doesn't have any spaces of its own. A business of that type would normally require 60 parking spots, under village code.

But Egan has secured a three-year lease agreement for 26 spaces at the nearby 56-space Arlington Heights Park District lot at Recreation Park. There are also 76 public street spaces on Hickory Avenue and 147 on Douglas Avenue.

Trustee John Scaletta wondered whether the board's approval of eased parking restrictions now could be regrettable later, due to forthcoming redevelopment in the Hickory-Kensington area.

But Trustee Tom Schwingbeck said his family visits a number of breweries in small towns in Michigan, and if they don't call an Uber to get there, they've never had a problem finding a place to park.

Egan and her nephew, head brewer Michael Valente, opened Itasca Brewing Co. seven years ago, but they received approvals in May that will allow them to relocate to the Roselle Town Center, while rebranding as Relative Brewing Co. Egan said the move was spurred by the pandemic and the desire to have outdoor seating. An opening is set for August.

She didn't announce an opening date for the Arlington Heights location, but said her contractors are ready to get to work on renovations.

Brewery: Parking still a concern for some trustees