Through citywide incentives and neighborhood revitalization, the City of Anaheim is becoming California’s fastest-growing center for craft brewers. The number of breweries recently expanded to 15, with 21 breweries soon to be in the city. More Anaheim breweries opened in the past two years than in any other city in Orange County, and Anaheim now has half of all the breweries in Orange County, Calif.
“Anaheim is evolving into a hub for microbreweries, larger brewery developers and for the tastemakers that propel industry trends,” said John Woodhead, director of community and economic development for the City of Anaheim. “We are combining regulatory innovations with the power of breweries to drive economic revitalization. This includes very creative re-uses of historic buildings, infusing them with an authentic sense of place.”
Woodhead estimates the reformed regulations can reduce upfront soft costs (such as permitting) from $100,000 in nearby cities to closer to $10,000 in Anaheim. The approach joins retail developers with the top levels of the city, including Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who encourages the community identity brought to Anaheim by recognized beer artisans.
“What the wine industry did for Napa, craft breweries can do for Anaheim,” Tait said. Tait announced the Brew City initiative in 2014 to streamline the approval process for new craft breweries. There are now 15 breweries open and six more are planned.
Among the city’s planning tools are:
- Allowing “by-right” brewery development in all commercial and industrial zones, reducing permitting time and costs.
- Relaxing ordinances to better allow breweries to incorporate food services.
- Strategically developing craft breweries in historic structures to boost revitalization.
- Establishing a “brewery concierge” planning expert to welcome the craft-beer industry and keep Anaheim on the cutting-edge of trends.
The Brew City Ambassador/Senior Planner, Scott Koehm, assists with issues ranging from permitted locations to tasting-room size and outdoor patios. Also assisting is the city’s Business Solutions Specialist, serving as a single point of contact during the building plan-check and construction process. By-right development reduces uncertainty, permitting time and overall permitting costs.
Under Koehm’s leadership, Anaheim’s Brew City webpage describes how alcohol manufacturing dates back to the founding of the city in the 1800s, when “the climate for production of beer, wine and distilled spirits was perfect for the city’s founding business leaders.”
Leisuretown and other partnerships with LAB Holding
Electrica Craft Brewery will open in fall, 2018, created by the owners of the popular Urbana Mexican Gastronomy in the Packing House. The new brewery in a former electrical switching station at 320 South Lemon Street is being redeveloped by LAB Holding, creators of the Packing House and many other Anaheim retail successes. Unsung Brewery opened last year in LAB Holding’s Make building, a former marmalade factory adjacent to the historic Packing House on Anaheim Boulevard.
LAB Holding is also partnering with San Diego’s well-known Modern Times Beer on a 32,000-sq-ft complex that will include — in the company’s celebrated creative approach — a coffee roaster and vegan Mexican food restaurant surrounded by gardens and a swimming pool. The craft-beer-centered Leisuretown will open in fall 2018 just south of the Packing House, at 554 South Anaheim Boulevard in a renovated Craftsman-style residence and adjacent barrel-vault commercial building.
Describing Leisuretown as “the community’s backyard,” LAB Holding Creator and Founder Shaheen Sadeghi said, “Brewers today are bringing neighbors together — much like the pubs of London or Ireland serve as neighborhood gathering spaces.”
LAB Holding has been a key revitalization partner with City of Anaheim, restoring older structures while infusing them with vibrant retail and other uses.
“When communities tear down history and build all new products, it takes away the soul and the heartbeat of the city,” said Sadeghi. “By preserving as many of these buildings as possible and blending with new products built in the area, we hope to create an even better balanced neighborhood. We would like the next generation in Anaheim to have a real relationship to its history and enjoy these structures and their stories.”
The smaller venues join larger microbreweries with tasting rooms. These establishments have a national presence and include Karl Strauss, Golden Road and Noble Ale Works in the Platinum Triangle near Angel Stadium. Coming soon to this neighborhood is Brewheim.