Developer and landlord Petra is adapting The Letter Shop’s former Forsyth Street building for the brewery and taproom.
Designs for Ruby Beach Brewing Co.’s Downtown brewery and taproom cleared their final hurdle Sept. 10.
The Downtown Development Review Board voted 6-0 to grant final approval for the project proposed by developer Petra at 228 E. Forsyth St. in The Letter Shop building.
Ruby Beach will lease the 5,347-square-foot building from Petra. Built in 1904, The Letter Shop is a contributing structure to the Downtown Jacksonville Historic District.
Mark Vandeloo, president of Ruby Beach owner Zeta Jax Inc., announced in February the brewery would relocate Downtown from Jacksonville Beach.
The total redevelopment cost for the adaptive reuse project is $445,000, according to documents submitted to the Downtown Investment Authority by Zeta Jax and Petra.
Ruby Beach will employ a least 13 people Downtown.
Ruby Beach will convert the north-facing display window into a roll-up window to open up to the sidewalk and bring more fresh air into the taproom, an idea that materialized because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to plans presented Sept. 10 by Petra Vice President Elias Hionides.
The developer enlarged the outdoor beer garden to encompass nearly all of the parking lot, which was requested by the DDRB when it granted conceptual approval July 9.
The outdoor beer garden will be covered with a trellis and a sail canopy. Final designs also show black trim and outdoor accent lighting. The Letter Shop’s exterior decorative tiling is restored and enhanced according to new renderings in the project’s plans.
Hionedes said during his presentation that the developers hope Ruby Beach can capitalize on foot traffic from the Florida Theatre as pandemic restrictions ease.
“We’re very confident with the outdoor beer garden and the glass door rollup facing Forsyth (Street) this will be a nice place for people to hang out either before they come in or after,” he said. “If there’s an event being held upstairs they can go downstairs and hang out for a little bit.”
Board member Frederick Jones said he thinks Ruby Beach’s Downtown location will increase the marketability of the full city block, including the Petra-owned office building at 220 E. Forsyth.
“Elias (Hionides), this is an absolute home run. I think it says a lot about our Downtown when an establishment leaves Jax Beach and comes Downtown and not the reverse. That’s really to be commended,” Jones said. “I’ve always loved the kitschy character of that building with The Letter Shop, so preserving that is spot on.”
Ruby Beach was awarded a $75,000 forgivable loan June 9 for the interior build-out from the Downtown Investment Authority’s Food and Beverage Retail Enhancement Program.