Brunswick may be getting an event space above Smoketown Brewing Station after all.
Smoketown owner David Blackmon, with help from Brunswick Main Street manager Sophie Smith, applied for a grant to help cover the cost to renovate the empty space above Blackmon’s brewery. They should find out if Blackmon received the grant in about two months, Smith said.
Blackmon has planned to open an event space in Brunswick since he bought the building, which used to be Brunswick’s fire station. But he ran into trouble when the county and state required him to have sprinklers for which he did not originally plan, according to previous News-Post reports.
Blackmon and Smith applied for the grant through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which puts out several state revitalization grants each year. The specific one for Smoketown is a Strategic Demolition Fund grant, which, despite its name, also helps with site acquisition and development.
If the grant comes through, Blackmon aims to open the space by the end of the year, he said.
While the space benefits Blackmon, it will also help Brunswick Main Street and downtown Brunswick as a whole. Brunswick Main Street has helped with some elements, including the facade.
There is no space like it in Brunswick and few in the county, Smith said.
“As it stands, that indoor event space upstairs would be the largest event space to come to our downtown, and there’s definitely a growing demand for event spaces in Brunswick,” Smith said.
The grant does require some match from Blackmon, but part of the match comes from a 30 percent fee credit he will receive from a new Brunswick program that helps businesses connect to water lines.
In May, the Brunswick City Council approved an ordinance that set up a five-year payment plan for businesses to connect to water lines. Businesses receive a waiver of up to 30 percent of the total connection fee for the first two years, according to the ordinance.
The fee waiver is not quite equal to the match Blackmon will have to make if he’s awarded the grant, but it will help, Smith said.
The five-year water payment plan will help, Blackmon said. It is about a $152,000 hookup fee reduced to around $100,000 with the program, he said.
The reason it is so expensive is due to the type and size of the line he’ll need for a sprinkler system. Once connected, he should be able to meet county and state fire code requirements.
Blackmon said it is thanks to Smith’s efforts to find the grant. He was “pleasantly surprised” by the help he received from Brunswick Main Street.
And while things look to be moving forward on the event space, Blackmon continues to work on opening a second location in Frederick, although that one will not include an event space.
Smoketown Creekside will open in the former House Cat brewery location, near Attaboy and Idiom breweries.
He recently received his federal approval and looks to open toward the end of summer.
“I would love to open [the second location] in August,” he said. “That’s my goal.”