FARGO - Brewhalla is going to get hella bigger.
Drekker Brewing Co. and MBA Investments plan to build a $20 million, 100,000-square-foot building connected to the west side of Drekker's brewery and taproom at 1666 1st Ave. N.
The addition to The Railyard development just west of downtown Fargo will include a 24-room hotel, 18 one- and two-bedroom apartments, an events venue with two halls for weddings and corporate events, and a 22,000 square-foot market to house food vendors and shops.
“Independently, they’re fun things. But we’re not just throwing them together because they stick or because they can be stapled onto this building. Each one of these is kind of integrated into the next” and helps build upon the experience that coming to Brewhalla has become, Drekker co-founder Mark Bjornstad recently told The Forum. “It’s filling a lot of our needs.”
Construction on the four-story building starts in spring 2021, with completion in fall 2022.
The main anchor and operator of the complex will be Drekker Brewing and it will all fall under the craft brewer's Brewhalla banner, Bjornstad said.
The idea has been fermenting for years, but Bjornstad said the concept, design and financing came together in the last 12 months.
The new Brewhalla will have a $17 million economic impact annually, contributing more than $1 million in sales tax and bringing 500,000 people to the area yearly, which should earn a "Skol!" from city, state and business development officials, Bjornstad said.
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The current Brewhalla is already listed as the Fargo area’s No. 4 attraction by Tripadvisor, he said.
The beer hall, food market, retail market, events spaces, lodging and residential create an interlocking mosaic, Bjornstad said.
Or, as a cheeky fact sheet accompanying the announcement said, “It’s like if Dr. Frankenstein hacked up all of the best parts of a downtown neighborhood and a mall and unleashed this unholy abomination on all of Fargo. We’ve got our hands on the comically large power switch and are about to make this thing come alive!”
Bjornstad toured the country and zipped up to Winnipeg, Man., with MBA architect and developer Kevin Bartram to look at various concepts for Brewhalla.
The market will be two stories, with 11,500 square feet on the main floor and 10,500 square feet on a mezzanine level, offering a diverse mix of local foods and goods. Half of the market spaces have already been spoken for, he said.
A dining area will also be on the first floor on the east side on the new complex, next to its connection to the the brewery and taproom.
The food hall is “kind of the embodiment of the downtown community” in a glass-enclosed space, Bjornstad said. “We’re taking parts of what we liked from each … to make it match with Fargo.”
Bjornstad and Bartram also tracked how similar venues have performed through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Food halls showed significantly” better performance, Bjornstad said.
Plus, they give small businesses a place to grow.
“We’ve had so much fun with the Red River Market,” Bjornstad said. But those retailers would not be able to support the cost of a shop downtown.
“A space like this gives them a stepping stone. ... It becomes its own small community. A business incubator,” Bjornstad said.
The event halls will be on the west side of the building.
The first-floor event hall will be 5,350 square feet, with room for up to 400 guests in a reception layout and up to 450 in a conference style configuration. A 4,075-square-foot second floor event hall can accommodate up to 300 guests in a reception layout and up to 350 in conference style configuration. There will also be six smaller event rooms available.
“Our No. 1 request is to do weddings at the brewery,” Bjornstad said. However, they haven’t been able to accommodate that because it would interfere with operations.
Bartram said the plans grew naturally, and creating the events spaces dovetailed well with the brewery and food market.
But, he added, he didn’t think the project would get as big as it did.
“The event space is really what kind of jacked up the size,” Bartram said.
The hotel will be marketed to people enjoying “beercations,” Bjornstad said,
He said it will be an Airbnb-type of experience, decorated with art from Drekker’s label artist, Punchgut, plus beer in the refrigerator and other perks.
Most of the 18 residential units will have balconies, with more than 40 underground parking spaces planned.
There will be a total of 375 parking spaces on the complex, with 180 new surface parking spaces added.
A toast to success
Drekker Brewing sells its beer in 35 states and nine countries.
The brand has a dedicated following wherever it is sold, Bjornstad said. Lines form at the Twin Cities outlets when new beers are released. In Fargo, new beers are released every other Friday, with lines of 50 to 500 people ready to stock up. More than half of those customers come from outside Fargo-Moorhead.
That loyalty has spurred phenomenal growth - 350% since 2018 - and revenues outpace that, Bjornstad said.
He said within the next two years, Drekker should be able to produce 10,000 barrels of beer annually, a size he likes.
Events at the current Brewhalla are enormously popular, Bjornstad said.. For example, the 2019 Christmas festival attracted 30,000 people in its four-day run. There’s also an annual hotdish festival and DrekkerFest.
Those popular happenings - and the beer - have helped make a stop at Drekker’s Brewhalla the No. 4 thing-to-do in Fargo according to Tripadvisor.
“We’re trying to create this experience, stuff that resonates well with Fargo and resonates with our brand,” Bjornstad said. “We know we live and die by community support."
Beyond Drekker, the Railyard Development also includes Icehouse Fit, InterOffice (office furniture store) Railyard Co-working Offices, and MBA Construction.