BY ALLAN WALTERS — The City of Hyattsville played a role in bringing a new brewery to the area.
On Oct. 24, the City of Hyattsville kicked off Maryland Economic Development Week with a ceremony at the future site of Streetcar 82 Brewing Company, which will occupy a repurposed auto repair garage at 4824 Rhode Island Avenue.
City staff chose the Streetcar 82 location to highlight the commercial façade improvement program for local businesses and property owners. This program offers a matching investment of up to $50,000 to building owners to improve the exterior of their businesses.
In 2015, John Wilson, the owner of a strip of buildings along Rhode Island Avenue between 42nd Place and 43rd Avenue, received a $15,000 grant that, according to a City of Hyattsville press release, included window and door replacement, painting, stucco work, and the installation of new lighting. This eventually enabled Wilson to attract the attention of a team of local brewers — Jon Cetrano, Mark Burke and Sam Costner — who were looking for a place to open a brewery.
Mayor Candace Hollingsworth, who presented a plaque of recognition to Wilson, said, “When you hear numbers like $15,000, it does not seem like it would make a big difference — but it does. We are pleased to be celebrating our partnership with the local business community.”
Wilson echoed the Mayor’s comments in his remarks, stating, “the public/private partnership offered by the City of Hyattsville made this possible and we are happy to have been a part of it.”
The commercial façade improvement program was instrumental in helping the owners of Streetcar 82 choose their location and start their business. “Without the facade improvement program, it would have been harder,” said Mark Burke. “The improvement of the garage certainly made it more attractive to us and made the case that the building would be a good location to start our brewery. We can see this program impacting the number of small businesses in the city and really drawing people into Hyattsville.
“After all, good looking buildings are conducive to foot and bike traffic for businesses; ugly and dilapidated buildings are not,” Burke said.
Streetcar 82 takes its name from a streetcar that ran from downtown Washington, D.C., through Hyattsville and into College Park from 1888 to 1958. Burke, the lone Hyattsville resident among the three owners, said the decision to locate in Hyattsville was made “because the community here aligns with our values of engagement, community-building, and civic pride. The redevelopment that is happening here shows that the city is committed to small businesses like ours, which we appreciate very much.”
Calling themselves a “Belgian-inspired and community-minded brewery,” Streetcar 82 was formed by the three former homebrewers and graduates of Gallaudet University after drinking homebrew one night. The trio are planning a production brewery with a taproom for visitors, including a patio out front.
It will be a few more months before beer lovers can begin to sample the IPAs and stouts that Streetcar 82 will offer on tap, however. When asked about an opening date, Burke said that they hope to open this winter but, “construction, permitting, and approvals are what will ultimately determine our final opening date.”
Next up for the City of Hyattsville and the façade improvement program? According to Katie Gerbes, a community planner for the city, $72,000 in grants were approved by the Hyattsville City Council on Oct. 3. These grants have been awarded to local businesses Shortcake Bakery, Vigilante Coffee Co. and the family practice offices of J. Richard Lilly, MD, and Associates at 5806 Baltimore Ave.