Union Craft Brewing plans ambitious expansion with brewery, retail complex

Hampden’s Union Craft Brewing plans to expand into a larger facility that will anchor a new 10 ½-acre manufacturing and retail complex in nearby Medfield called Union Collective.

In addition to a brewery and taproom that’s more than three times larger than Union Craft’s current facility, Union Collective will feature space for eight local businesses, nonprofits and manufacturers. The manufacturing and retail space plans to open by late fall, said Union Craft Brewing co-founder Jon Zerivitz, with the brewery and taproom following in spring 2018.

Union is partnering with Seawall Development Co. — the company that developed R. House food hall and other new developments in Remington — on the project at 1700 W. 41st St.

Union — which Zerivitz founded with Kevin Blodger and Adam Benesch in 2011 — has been looking for a new home for the past two years, Zerivitz said, adding that the company is relieved to be staying in the community. (The new facility is approximately a half-mile from its current location on Union Avenue.)

“It means a tremendous amount to us to be able to stay where we started this,” Zerivitz said. “It’s really cool to have a permanent home.”

Known for beers like Duckpin Pale Ale and Old Pro, Union has outgrown its 15,000-square-foot home, he said. The new facility will expand production capabilities from nearly 14,000 barrels of beer per year to 30,000, according to Zerivitz. With the expansion, the company plans to create more than 100 new jobs in the next seven to 10 years.

City Councilman Leon Pinkett, who represents the district that includes Medfield and Hampden, described Union as “an incredible neighbor” and the project as “a benefit to the community.”

“It’s utilizing that empty space but in doing so, it’s creating job opportunities for the community and beyond,” Pinkett said. “I think it’s a win-win in that aspect. Not to say residential development is necessarily bad, but we also need commercial development that brings jobs as well.”

Construction on Union Collective will begin July 1. The 138,000-square-foot warehouse space Union and Seawall plan to transform was once a Sears service center and most recently a building used by the Hedwin Corp., Zerivitz said.

The project has “60-70 percent” of tenants under contract, Zerivitz said. He declined to name them, but said all will be Baltimore-based businesses.

“We have made so many friends in the manufacturing industry — young entrepreneurs that have started businesses here in Baltimore that are all going through the same growing pains,” Zerivitz said. “Why not try and purchase this property and bring everybody down here together, and create something even larger than just a bigger brewery?”

Jon Constable, a partner at Seawall, said Union Collective will “keep a lot of fun manufacturing within the city limits.”

“We really love their community involvement and the fact they wanted to stick around in Baltimore not far from their original location,” Constable said.

Both Zerivitz and Constable declined to say how much money has been invested in the project.

Zerivitz said the name Union Collective reflects a philosophy of collaboration. He envisions the different companies coming together to share ideas and resources.

“If it’s logistical things like shipping and receiving, there might be opportunities to share a truck,” Zerivitz said. “You can sit around and talk marketing ideas. It’s for us to all be together and to bounce things off each other.”

Union explored other areas to relocate to, including South Baltimore’s Carroll-Camden area, Brewers Hill and Baltimore County. Ultimately though, the company — which is a popular hangout for the neighborhood thanks to collaborative pop-up events and more than 40 varieties of craft beer — was happy to stay in the Hampden-Woodberry-Medfield area.

“The fact that it’s not downtown Baltimore and that we’re exposing this midtown area to more people, and it just has such a great community feel to it — we feel like it’s the perfect place for us to be for a long time,” Zerivitz said.

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