A winery group is planning to rebuild the former site of a brewery building.
In a unanimous vote at a recent meeting, the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals provided a positive recommendation to the Joliet City Council to advance the project.
Phil Soto, a petitioner speaking on behalf of Sehring Property Holdings, said they’re pleased to see the project given the go-ahead to move forward.
“We’re just trying to restore what was originally built back in the 1850s,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about the amount of the foundations of the old brewery that we’ve been able to uncover and the tunnels. So, I think it would be the perfect re-use.”
The property in question is currently zoned as R-5 multi-family residential and the petitioner is requesting a variation of use to allow the operation of a brewery and special events space in a B-3 general business use. An associated variance is also of interest that looks to decrease the setback variance from 25 feet to zero.
The site used to serve as the home of the Sehring family, which housed a brewing company at southwest corner of Bridge and Summit streets, zoning records show. By the 1940s, the Catholic Diocese of Joliet assumed new ownership of the building and operated a dormitory within the castle for 50 years thereafter.
When a preliminary plat of subdivision was proposed to divide the existing three buildings on site, the Diocese gained approval but the recording never occurred thereafter, zoning records show. The property was recently sold to Sehring Property Holdings after the Diocese moved their main facilities to Crest Hill.
The project, if later approved by the Joliet City Council, could serve between 80 and 100 people.
The developer intends to distill whiskey on site in the yet to be constructed processing building, which is currently being excavated and will utilize the limestone they find there in reconstruction. Other plans include growing grapes on site.
John Sheridan, of Joliet, spoke on behalf of the Cunningham Neighborhood Council saying they support the project.
“We think it’s a good use of the building,” he said. “We’re looking for thriving business on the near west side… I think this would be a good fit. We kind of butt up to it with St. John’s (Neighborhood Council) organization. So, we look forward to the winery coming into our neighborhood.”