By Jeff Clemetson | Editor
Q&A forum reveals details about brewery’s plans
Depot Springs Beer Co. founder and CEO Aaron Dean was upset over the negative reaction to his brewery’s new facility being built on Fletcher Parkway. At recent town hall meetings held by the City Council, nearby residents voiced concerns about the impact the brewery might have on their neighborhood. So the lifelong La Mesan reached out by hosting a community forum on March 15 at Nans Coats Cottage to explain the project to his neighbors.
“I heard, obviously, a lot of voices — good and bad — about what was going on with our project,” he told the group of nearly 40 people who showed up to share both concerns and praise about the brewery’s plans. “But I really do want to be a part of this community.”
Dean said there were a lot of misconceptions about Depot Springs, because early articles in the local press had quoted him as saying he was building a large concert venue in the neighborhood.
“When you start doing your development work, you get excited, and for me, I got real excited,” he said of his telling The Reader that the brewery would house a 900-person venue. “That’s kind of a hard thing to remove.”
Dean assured the audience that he was not building a concert venue before describing what the brewery’s final plans for music would be.
“We are absolutely a brewery; a restaurant that has an amazing courtyard that will have live music,” Dean said, adding that the courtyard may also host movies, art shows, fashion shows and mini-beer festivals. “It will have all sorts of things that support the patrons that come there to be with us.”
The music shows will mostly be free and only “rarely” require purchasing a ticket, he said, adding that one of the reasons he started the brewery project was to build a place where families could bring their children and listen to live music. There are also many other plans in the works to make the brewery more family-friendly.
“We’re not a Corvette Diner, we’re not Dave & Buster’s, we’re not Chuck E. Cheese, for sure, but we have a 3,000-square-foot area that’s designated for children. It’s media-free; when it’s made it’ll have a playground that is not swings or slides, it’s actually meant for kids to learn how to self-play. We’ll have a 60-foot horizontal rock-climbing wall; we’ll have a whole art program; and this whole area is supervised.”
Dean also touted the project as bringing a much-needed upgrade to the “dilapidated” shopping center.
“What we’re doing is spending a ton of money and really making that shopping center something better,” he said, adding that Michael’s and Souplantation have tentatively agreed to redoing the parking lot and adding landscaping. To mitigate noise, a six-foot wall along the back of the buildings will also be built.
Dean then took questions from the audience, mostly about the possible noise issues from the outdoor music area.
He assured his neighbors that noise won’t be an issue; because of the kind of sound system being put in, the $30,000 sound study that was conducted for the site and because he wants to adhere to the sound levels spelled out in the facility’s conditional-use permit.
“For me, it is going to bode real well to make sure my noise doesn’t create a nuisance because the city can just take my permit away,” Dean said.
Cherri Bailey and Pam Ciborowski, El Cajon residents who live near the future brewery site, voiced their concerns about possible overflow parking that could impact their street.
“My house is literally 200 yards from your location,” Ciborowski said. “We are perfect targets for offsite parking if the parking lot is slammed and it is slammed already with Souplantaion.”
To address the parking issue, Dean said the brewery will implement several strategies. For starters, the parking lot will be restriped, which will add about 60 spots when completed. Souplantation has also agreed to use some parking in the back for employees and customers, which will free another 50 spots, and brewery employees will be parking at a church across the street to keep from adding any additional parking burden. Dean is also looking at promoting walking and public transportation to and from events at the brewery through incentives like coupons or other deals.
“We have the trolley there; you’ve got Uber, you’ve got Lyft, you’ve got taxis, you’ve got bikes, you’ve got walking,” he said. “If you do any of those things, you’re going to end up with something.”
Dean assured one resident concerned about trash in the neighborhood that the brewery would not be selling plastic cups for beer and would not produce any more trash than any other restaurant. He said the brewery will clean the parking lot regularly but he has no power over what people do outside his property line.
“I can only control what I can control,” he said. “All I can say is I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that it’s a great experience for patrons and a great experience for the neighborhood.”
—Write to Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.