A pop up beer garden proposed for Kennett Square
● By Steven Hoffman
The Independence Beer Garden in Philadelphia
Kennett Square Borough Council expedited plans for a pop up beer garden by approving a temporary use permit through the end of the year at its meeting on Monday night.
The pop up beer garden is proposed for a 1.84-acre property in the area of Birch Street that was formerly the site of a cannery and a creamery. The property is owned by 401 Birch LLC. Sandra Mulry and Christa Bui are working on behalf of 401 Birch LLC to develop the pop up beer garden—a project that would find a new use for an industrial site that has been vacant for over a decade.
Mulry and Bui both talked about how the project aims to create a beautiful space that will be enjoyed by the community as a gathering spot for people of all ages.
Bui, a teacher who settled near Kennett Square with her family, said that she grew up in Belgium where beer gardens are much more than a place to enjoy a drink—they are centers for culture, where the community can gather together to enjoy music, the arts, and more. Beer gardens can have natural playgrounds, giving children the opportunity to play outdoors in a natural setting.
“The point is to bring people together,” Mulry explained. “This is a place for friends and family to gather.”
She noted that beer gardens are now becoming more popular in larger urban areas in the U.S.
While the specific details about the beer garden in Kennett Square are being worked out, Bui said that she envisions it being open a few days a week, most likely on Fridays and Saturdays during the warmer months of the year. Someone with a liquor license from the state would have to apply to serve as a caterer for the beer garden. It could be one caterer, or it could be multiple caterers that will provide the beverages. The plan is also to have food trucks on the site.
Bui and Mulry both talked about how it’s up to the community to determine how the beer garden evolves. They want to start out small this year, with an opening perhaps taking place late in the fall, and then continuing to build on the project next year.
Rusty Drumheller, the borough’s codes enforcement officer, explained that borough council has the ability to approve a temporary use permit that would allow the beer garden to open up. The temporary use permit can be renewed annually for up to five years by borough council.
Borough officials were supportive of the new use for a smallish industrial site that has long been vacant.
“Towns of this size don’t typically have things like this,” said council member Geoff Bosley.
“I think it’s a unique concept,” added council member Brett Irwin. “I think it’s a great idea and could be really successful. I’m in favor of it.”
Council president Leon Spencer said that they are taking a blighted area and finding a creative use to bring something new to the area.
“To me, that’s a very positive thing,” Spencer said. He added that borough council would be able to review the development each year when it was time to renew the temporary use permit.
Initially, borough council was going to approve the temporary use permit for a full year, but borough solicitor Marc Jonas expressed some concerns about the lack of specific details about the plan at this point. This led to a discussion as to whether council should delay a vote on approving the temporary use permit. However, several council members noted that a delay in the vote might make it impossible for the beer garden to open this year. Ultimately, council opted to approve the temporary use permit through the end of 2015, which will enable council to reevaluate the project for 2016.
In other business at the Aug. 3 meeting, Mary Hutchins, the executive director of Historic Kennett Square, said that Kennett area officials met with Todd Poole of 4ward Planning to discuss final preparations before work on an economic development study begins on Sept. 1.
Last month, 4ward Planning and Mark Keener of the RBA Group were hired as the consultants for economic development study, which will help Kennett area officials plan for the future by providing an economic development strategy and an implementation plan.
A task force comprised of representatives from Kennett Square Borough, Kennett Township, Historic Kennett Square, Longwood Gardens, the Chester County Planning Commission, and community members is being formed to help with work on the plan. The study is expected to be completed by December of 2016.
Borough council also authorized the advertisement for a public meeting to a proposed ordinance that amends Chapter 11 that pertains to motor vehicles, traffic, metered, and long-term parking.
Kennett Square Borough Council only meets once this month so the next meeting will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 8.