EC's second microbrewery eyes spring opening

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The Seven Sounds Brewing Company plans to renovate the former Hurdle Hardware building on Water Street, shown in this Aug. 24, 2017 file photo, into Elizabeth City's second microbrewery. The company also plans to honor the waterfront building's historic character by restoring the building's red brick exterior and removing its third floor.

Seven Sounds Microbrewery Proposed Graphic

By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Friday, July 6, 2018

Elizabeth City's next microbrewery, the Seven Sounds Brewing Company, is hoping to open by spring 2019, owner Dean Schaan said this week.

Along the way, the new microbrewery also plans to restore the historic character of a major downtown building, Schann added.

Schaan gave an update on the project on Tuesday, coming on the heels of the city's Historic Preservation Commission’s granting approval to the company's plans for its future location, the former Hurdle Hardware building on Water Street.

According to its renovation plans, Seven Sounds not only will restore the building's red brick exterior; it also will remove the building’s third floor.

Schaan explained a condominium developer added the third floor in the early 2000s. That might have suited their project, but it impaired the historic character of the building and made it ineligible for Historic Tax Credits, he said.

Removing the third floor is also no real loss for Seven Sounds, Schaan said. The company envisioned the first floor as the brewing and serving area for its business and the second floor as an event space. Seven Sounds had no real plans for the third floor, he said.

Schaan said Seven Sounds is currently finishing engineer's drawings of the building and hopes to get the city's Technical Review Committee to approve them this month. Ideally, that would allow Seven Sounds to obtain building permits in August and have the doors to the microbrewery ready to open by next spring, he said.

Schaan acknowledged Seven Sounds' project has evolved and encountered delays since it was first proposed in 2016. Operating then as the Elizabeth City Brewing Company — always a tentative, working name, Schaan noted — the firm first bought and renovated the historic Fowler building across the street from the former Hurdle Hardware.

Once the company got into the Fowler building, however, it found the wooden floor wasn't suitable for heavy brewing equipment. Ripping out the floor and pouring concrete made the costs of that location unfeasible, Schaan said, and so the company then bought the Hurdle Hardware building. The building had been in the hands of Virginia-based developers who planned but never delivered renovations of the building for residential and retail use.

Seven Sounds then encountered delays due to engineering work, Schaan said. Explaining the Hurdle Hardware building is more than a century old, he said engineers had to study its floor and structural stability. With that analysis completed, he said Seven Sounds can now advance toward construction.

Schaan also said the project's estimated cost remains between $1.5 million and $1.7 million, as reported to city officials last summer.

Schaan said it might be cheaper to open a microbrewery somewhere else, but his company is committed to Elizabeth City.

“We really want to be part of restoring downtown Elizabeth City,” he said, adding Seven Sounds remains passionate about craft beer and continues planning its menu.

Schaan also explained the company's new name, which it announced on its Facebook page in April. “Seven Sounds” refers to the northeastern North Carolina communities around the Albemarle Sound, and Schaan said the company always envisioned itself as a regional attraction. Its logo is the coastline of northeastern North Carolina stylized into a number 7.

Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Jarrett Koch said Tuesday that he's looking forward to the project, which would be Elizabeth City's second microbrewery after Ghost Harbor Brewing Company opened last year.

Microbreweries have many enthusiasts and are effectively a “tourist attraction,” Koch said. Two microbreweries should make the downtown even more of a destination, he said.