Planning is underway for a new craft beer brewhouse and taproom in Boalsburg.
Boal Beer Works Inc. owners Gordon and Lara Kauffman presented to the Harris Township Planning Commission on Monday night a sketch plan for the business, which would be located on a small lot leased from the expansive Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum property.
Sketch plans are optional submissions meant for the developer to introduce a project and receive early feedback from the planning commission. The Kauffmans intend to submit a formal land development plan for approval at a later date.
A 2,500-square-foot-building would have 1,500 square feet for the taproom and 1,000 square feet for the brewhouse, with access to the property from Old Boalsburg Road. It would not have a restaurant, and Gordon Kaufmann said it would be serviced by food trucks.
While beer will be the focus, it also will have craft beverages like kombucha and coffee. The taproom has a working name of Boal City Brewery, but Kauffman said that is likely to change.
The goal is to create a community gathering place, especially for those who “have a passion for outdoor recreation, particularly cycling,” Kauffman said.
“I’m envisioning creating a grassroots culture there that’s focused on outdoor adventure, the environment and the community,” he added. “We’ve lived here a long time. I want this; I think my friends will want it and I really think that the community will put their arms around it as well.”
The location is “really important to us,” he said, because of its proximity to Rothrock State Forest, the “ample outdoor space” available and the network of trails developed on the Boal Mansion property. Bicyclists can use the Centre Region bike path network to travel to Church Street then access the development via Old Boalsburg Road.
It’s also close to the Diamond and the Pennsylvania Military Museum and offers scenic views of the Bald Knob Ridge, Kauffman said.
The property is in the township’s Cultural District and Corridor Overlay District, where food and drink establishments are a permitted use.
“I think that this development project dovetails really nicely with what has been going on and I think what the future plans are for the cultural district, including the Boal Mansion property, where we can really work to shine a light on the history in Boalsburg, the mansion that’s there, the theater,” Kauffman said. “We can create that ecosystem of arts and theater and, in this case, craft beer and other drinks. I just think there’s a nice synergy between this project and the Cultural District, which I think is very important to the township.”
The Boalsburg Small Area Plan adopted in 2016 also identifies the Old Boalsburg Road corner as the most likely location to encourage commercial activity along that area of Boal Avenue.
The taproom would be located on 1.1 acres of the 48-acre Boal Mansion property. In addition to a covered patio area, it would make use of the green space with outdoor seating. The building design would allow for plenty of natural light indoors, and a green roof may be located over a portion of the lower half of the building.
No decision has been made on what type of material will be used for the exterior of the building, Kauffman said.
Plans call for 25 parking spaces at the front of the building.
Three existing buildings are located on the parcel and cannot be removed, per Boal Mansion bylaws. One is a historic gatehouse used as a residence, which will not be incorporated into the initial plans for the taproom. Another is a 1950s block garage, which Lara Kauffman said would be beautified.
The third is what Boal Mansion Museum director Bob Cameron described as a “falling-down shed.” The Kauffmans plan to remodel that to use as an entry point to the courtyard and the taproom’s main entrance.
Cameron said it would have cost the museum nearly $200,000 to restore those buildings, which he called “one of the biggest eyesores on the site.”
“That was one of the things from an economical standpoint looking at what they’re proposing … to be able to restore that and also it would bring much needed funding to the Boal Mansion. It looked like it was a win-win proposition,” he said.
A traffic impact study already has been completed and was found to meet township requirements. Township Manager Amy Farkas said it took into account special event periods such as the People’s Choice Festival and Memorial Day Weekend, as well as a potential Boal Avenue “road diet.”
The Kauffmans have agreed to complete another traffic study in year five of operation, when the study suggested growth rates could begin to create an impact, Farkas said.
The sketch plan also addresses landscaping requirements with buffer yards, islands, tree preservation and other plantings. (Lara Kauffman is a licensed landscape architect.)
Tim Diehl, the project’s civil engineer, said the stormwater management plan is largely in place but he will be continuing to work with the township engineer to ensure it meets all requirements.
Cameron added that the brewery ties into the history of Boalsburg and the Boal Mansion property, as the Boal family opened the village’s first tavern in the early 1800s and once owned what is now Duffy’s Tavern.
“The Boals were very big in the brewing business at the time,” he said.