HAMMOND | A popular craft brewery is no longer going to build a restaurant and production brewery at Interstate 80/94 and Kennedy Avenue in Hammond.
Flossmoor Station Restaurant and Brewery was not able to secure financing for a 28,000-square-foot brewpub in the Oxbow Landing development, Mayor Thomas McDermott said. The city withdrew $3.5 million in incentives after Hammond and the microbrewery mutually agreed to part ways.
The microbrewery had been trying to raise money for the project by lining up immigrant investors from China through the federal EB-5 program, but had not been able to bankroll the $10 million project by the timetable that was originally agreed upon.
"The incentive agreement specified the time period, but they weren't able to come up with their financing for a number of reasons," McDermott said. "It got down to the point where we could have chosen to extend the contract, but we didn't think they were on the same time frame. We wanted to move quicker, and they were nervous about the financing for a number of reasons."
Flossmoor Station co-owner Dean Armstrong said he hoped to finance the expansion project by offering investors equity, so his business would not have to take on the debt that comes with bank financing. But lining up enough investment proved to be challenging.
The popular craft brewery, which occupies a former train station in Flossmoor and has amassed more than 70 awards for its beer and been named the best brewpub in America, had wanted to expand its production capacity so it could start bottling its beer and 12-ounce bottles and distributing it in other Midwestern states. The beer is mainly distributed at Whole Foods, Binny's and Walgreens stores throughout Chicago.
Flossmoor Station now is looking at a Plan B, a production brewery without a restaurant, Armstrong said. The microbrewery still hopes to broaden its distribution to Northwest Indiana, Southeast Michigan and Northeast Wisconsin. He said the microbrewery would definitely consider a Hammond location after the positive experience he had working with city officials.
McDermott said he was disappointed the microbrewery would not come to town, but said momentum continues at the 23-acre site along the Little Calumet River that Hammond has been redeveloping after tearing down the River Park Apartments. Construction should begin this year on a Buffalo Wild Wings and four-story 100-room Hampton Inn.
A surgery center and a law office also want to build on the site, though discussions are still underway, McDermott said. A Hammond law firm hopes to build a mixed-used building with offices and retail, similar to new ones recently constructed in Dyer, and move its office there, he said.
"Basically, the whole site is now going to be developed except for the eight acres where Flossmoor would have been," he said. "We're keeping those acres open."