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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 22, 202008:10 AM EST

Planning and Development Department recommends denial for Post Modern Brewing rezoning

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The building owners want to save the Pure Oil Co. gas station and put it on National Register of Historic Places.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

The city Planning and Development Department recommends denial of a rezoning request by Post Modern Brewing LLC to open a craft beer brewery and taproom at 2951 Post St. west of Willow Branch Avenue, where Riverside meets Murray Hill.

The staff report says the proposal is too intense for the residential area.

The property requires rezoning to allow the craft brewery, the outdoor sale and service of alcoholic beverages and for deviations from the zoning code on the 0.19-acre parcel. 

The rezoning would change from commercial community/general-2 to planned unit development to allow the brewery, exempt the minimum distance requirement from schools and churches for sale and service of beer and wine and relax setbacks and parking requirements. 

The property is adjacent to commercial community/general-2 zoning to the north, west and south, residential medium density-D to the east and a PUD northeast for 19 single-family courtyard homes under construction on the south side of College Street between Willow Branch Avenue and Rubel Street in Riverside.

The planning and development staff report said the parking demand is great and the solutions to that demand are unidentified. 

“The uses allowed under the CCG-2 zoning district are plentiful and the deviation from setback to accommodate inadequate parking space is not beneficial to the character of this historic neighborhood,” it said.

Staff said the site design does not blend well with the historic pattern of development in the area.

“The intensification of the use, which requires a large amount of parking and the location of that parking on the site, could be considered out of scale for the heavily residential area,” it said.

It also said outside seating is not compatible with the character of the area.

The report mentions two attached Riverside Avondale Preservation memos, but does not state that RAP supports the project.

Post Modern Brewing, led by Andrew Suslak, bought the property in September with the intent to redevelop and reuse the former 1,346-square-foot Pure Oil Co. gas station built in 1935. 

“Pure Oil Co. built 500 to 700 across the country with less than 100 left and seven are currently on the National Register (of Historic Places). We want to get it put on the register as well,” Suslak said.

The rezoning application indicated the building has been vacant for about 20 years and remembered for its purple exterior when the Purple Petunia florist and antique shop operated in the building.

Andrew Suslak and Brandon Merkle, the owners of Post Modern Brewing, stand in the doorway of the former Pure Oil Co. gas station at 2951 Post St. that they plan to renovate into a brewery and taproom.

Suslak and business partner Brandon Merkle want to preserve the 85-year-old building designed by architect Carl A. Peterson. The building replicates the English Tudor Cottage style to emphasize the “Romantic Suburbs” as a branding element for motorists to easily identify. 

The proposed site plan shows the property will have five on-site parking spaces. Two angled parking spaces are proposed on Willow Branch Avenue and three parallel spaces are proposed along Post Street. Space also will be provided for a food truck.

The site and floor plan for Post Modern Brewing.

The property lies within the Riverside/Avondale Historic District and the Riverside Overlay Zone. 

Post Modern met with the Riverside Avondale Preservation Zoning Committee, receiving letters of support. 

In support of the parking reduction, the RAP Zoning Committee wrote April 28 that it “supports the adaptive reuse of this important historic building in the manner proposed and commends the owner for the sensitive restoration that is proposed. We support the site plan and written description as presented, with the exception that we do not support right-of-way parking along Post Street.”

Building elevations for the renovated building.

 

“People just want to see it used and we have this idea and the means to bring it to fruition,” Suslak said. RAP supports putting the brewery and taproom at the location after being vacant for about 20 years, he said.

Urban planner Jack Shad, the agent assisting Post Modern in the entitlement processes, said he was disappointed with the Planning Development staff report.

“We are very disappointed to see the Planning Department staff recommending denial because a historic building doesn’t have the parking that a new building would be required to have.  At a time when the city is losing historic buildings, the government should be making it easier to restore buildings, not harder,” he said.

“It can be very expensive to rehabilitate historic buildings, especially buildings like this that have been vacant for so long. Restaurant and entertainment uses, including craft breweries, are one of the few types of businesses that can make it a worthwhile investment.  If it made financial sense to put a small retail store or office in that building, someone would have done it sometime in the last 20 years.”

The rezoning application is scheduled at the Planning Commission at 1 p.m. July 23 on the Zoom platform.

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