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Billings City Council approves tax-increment financing for brewery in EBURD

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Posted at 1:52 AM, Apr 23, 2024

A new brewery is headed to Billings and will be located in the heart of the East Billings Urban Renewal District (EBURD) on the corner of Secnd Avenue North and North 13th Street.

The Billings City Council approved the Billings Industrial Revitalization District (BIRD) recommendation of $40,837.16 for the $300,664 project.

That money would pay for several items. including building sidewalks, curbs and gutters.

The owners of the brewery, called 1889 Brewing Company, say that they like the nostalgia and the tradition and want to bring back an area that was once vibrant in Billings.

“We’re born and raised here (in Billings),” Matt Miller said about himself and his wife Lindsey.  “We decided to come up with 1889, the year that Montana became a state."

The Millers are building the 1889 Brewing Company in an old auto dent repair shop.

“Bring an old building back to life,” Matt Miller said. “There's too many things that just, let's just knock the building down and build something new and fresh. We're kind of going for that whole old school. It’s your garage.”

The Millers say the brewery will be like going to a friend’s garage to relax and have some fun.

The EBURD stretches from Montana Avenue to Sixth Avenue North and includes North Park, and from North 22nd Street toward MetraPark.

Thirsty Street Brewing and Undammed Distillery are at the west end of the district.

The Millers see the potential eight blocks to the east and want to be part of that business neighborhood.

“Family-oriented, community-based, and small-town feel and they're kind and supportive,” Lindsey Miller said about the other business owners in the EBURD. “And so that's the sort of thing that we want to make sure it comes through in our brewery is just more of that. That Montanan feel.”

“Anytime a community comes together, restaurants, breweries, things like that., it causes people to travel to an area to try it out and increases the growth around it in that area,” said Michelle Harkins, BIRD executive director.

Harkins says several new businesses have come into the area and more are expected.

“You're actually getting to have your hand in helping this area grow and expand and to have renewal,” Harkins said. “And it's pretty impactful just to say you're a part of that.”

Nationwide, craft beer sales have declined 1 percent compared with about 5 percent for the entire industry, according to the National Brewers Association.

“Montana, we haven't really seen too much of that decline,” Matt Miller said.  “With all the different products on the market, seltzers and things like that, it does take kind of a hit from craft brewery.”

The Millers hope to open the 1889 Brewing Company this summer.

“The potential of what it's going to look like in the coming years and sort of being able to be on the ground floor and watch it grow around us, it's just a neat opportunity,” Lindsey Miller said.