Friday, November 27, 2015

New cidery downtown? Two-way streets would make Matt's business idea far more feasible.

Photo credit: Kevin Gibson.

Q: What do you get for keeping secrets?

A: Scooped.

Grr. That's twice in a week, but hey -- I'm happy to forward good news whatever the source. First, let's look at cider, and then conjecture how a functional civic economic development effort might transform this project into a better investment.

Big Four Burgers owner planning to open craft cidery in 2016, by Kevin Gibson (In-cider Louisville)

Downtown New Albany already has a pair of breweries and a winery to go with its many restaurants. Sometime in early 2016, the Southern Indiana city will add a craft cidery to that mix.

Matt McMahan, owner of Big Four Burgers + Beer, says the project is only just under way, but he hopes that by spring, the 9,000-square-foot space at 432 Pearl St. will be a place where people can come in for a good meal paired with cider.

Cider in America has come full circle, and is a growth category.

A popular alcoholic beverage from Colonial times until Prohibition, cider has begun to regain widespread recognition in recent years, with the largest beer companies releasing ciders to catch up to the growth. In fact, cider is now the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage, up more than 75.4 percent last year, according to market research firm IRI.

One of Matt's biggest issues will be navigating the thicket of state regulations.

The future cidery doesn’t even have a name yet, and McMahan says he is researching what kinds of permits will be needed to make cider in New Albany, given that cider is somewhere between beer and wine in the eyes of the law.

To make cider, I believe he'll need a farm winery license; cider for production is considered wine for regulatory purposes, although the excise tax levied is that of beer, or some such persistent nonsense.

If the cidery intends to sell alcoholic beverages other than the cider it makes, there must be a retail permit, and while it can be done, there are more regulatory obstacles in Indiana for small wineries than small breweries when it comes to the front of the house.

He'll get it done, through it won't be made easy for him.

Another impediment to ideal outcomes at the southeast corner of Elm and Pearl is dysfunctional street design, with high-speed Elm and Pearl both (still) one-way streets in defiance of experience throughout the globe.

As the following excerpts from Jeff Speck's Downtown Street Network Proposal clearly illustrate, one-way streets work AGAINST a business like the one Matt is planning to open.

The enduringly limited conceptual comprehension of a relative handful of downtown stakeholders notwithstanding, one-way streets act as a "convenient framework for making limited profit."

Which means that an ongoing failure to design streets correctly acts as a local government profit inhibitor, and an investment value reducer. Some businesses are doing okay, but it could be better.

As it stands, the city provides almost no assistance to entrepreneurs like Matt.

But if two-way streets offered a framework for making greater profits over a huge expanse of commercial ground, wouldn't a rational street grid be the BEST way the city might help? 

From page 100:

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