The newest chapter in the Winter Street Depot's history unfolded Friday, Jan. 25, with sledgehammers and champagne.
The Soo Line Depot at 1615 Winter St. was built in 1908 and operated passenger service until 1965. It is now poised to become the new home of Thirsty Pagan Brewing.
"This historic building really has anchored this part of the community, bringing people in, taking people out, it's a place to start your life in Superior," Superior Mayor Jim Paine said. "Breweries do something similar."
Thirsty Pagan owners Steve Knauss and Deb Emery plan to move the business, known for its hand-crafted beer and gourmet pizzas, to the depot from 1623 Broadway St. At about 7,500 square feet, the building offers more options for private meeting space in addition to a 120-seat taproom.
Emery and Knauss are not just in the beer business, Paine said. They're in the community business, the good-time business, the pizza business, "the neighborhood business."
Knauss walked through the depot Friday, pointing out where four private meeting rooms will be, as well as the spot for the stage and fermenting tanks. Thirsty Pagan head brewer Kathleen Cullhane discussed where the brewhouse, kitchen and offices will be located.
"We're really excited - let me say that," Knauss said.
Since 1992, the building has been owned by Jim DeMeyer. It has been his family home, the site of his business, a backdrop for the film "Iron Will" and more.
"I'm just thrilled that they are the ones who are going to take it and finish what I kind of started," DeMeyer said. "It's kind of like giving up one of your children, so I'm glad I gave it to some good people."
Knauss and Emery have good souls, he said.
"We promise we will take care of your building and make these dreams come true for you guys as well, and that's from our hearts," Emery told the DeMeyer family. "We know this building could have gone to anybody and we have it and we are very fortunate and very honored. Thank you guys. You made it happen."
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided a $148,800 Community Development Investment Grant for the redevelopment project.
When it comes to the CDI grants, said City Port and Planning Director Jason Serck, Superior is 3 for 3. Other projects to receive grants include the restoration of the Empire Block and Earth Rider Brewery construction. In total, WEDC has invested more than $500,000 into Superior through the three projects.
The Superior City Council also provided a $50,000 development grant for Thirsty Pagan Brewery to help fund site improvements.
"Each year, new businesses are proving that some of Superior's greatest opportunities are hiding in the places that other had rejected or forgotten," Paine said.
Buildings like the depot are sturdy and ready to be reused, Serck said, but they require additional investment to get them up to code. Projects targeting them are the building blocks of a city.
"Maintaining infrastructure and keeping costs down and putting infrastructure in and looking at existing buildings is really a plus all around," Serck said.
Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, said the business district of Superior looks better today than it ever has in his lifetime thanks to entrepreneurs willing to risk their own capital to invest in the city.
It's easy for businesses to believe in Superior, Paine said.
"It's a little harder to believe in this part of Superior and some of our most visionary business and developers are the ones who have taken a chance on the North End of Superior," the mayor said.
Work will begin on the interior of the depot Friday, Feb. 1, and is expected to take about 13 weeks. Knauss said Thirsty Pagan plans to shut down for about a week when it makes the move to the depot.