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Plans brewing for downtown Minocqua retail beer outlet

Dean S. Acheson

MINOCQUA – A Minocqua businessman is planning to turn an historic downtown building that once housed a gasoline station from the 1930s into a retail outlet for his craft brewery operation.

Kirk Bangstad, who owns Minocqua Brewing Company, saw his request for an administrative review permit (ARP) pass the Minocqua plan commission on a 4-2 vote Tuesday, but some hurdles remain for the former Texaco Oil Company station on 329 Front St., Minocqua.

That’s because the commissioners don’t want the county planning and development committee to waive on-site parking for employees and customers, as requested by the owner. In this case, the county code requires seven parking stalls. The county panel could overrule the town, but that doesn’t happen very often.

In the meantime, the plan commission wants Bangtad’s representative, Christopher Max Naumann, of Christopher Max Design & Development, LLC., to look at adding those required parking spaces, perhaps with an eye of using a small, porkchop-shaped property on the east side for vehicular access.

The problem is that no one knows for sure who owns that small parcel. The state Department of Transportation says the town owns it. But town chairman Mark Hartzheim says that may not be the case, as records are unclear.

A second motion that was passed calls for the county to bring back any revised parking design to the plan commission for review and approval. ARPs usually bypass the town board and go directly to the county, unless there is substantial opposition or questions by the commissioners.

Hartzheim, who voted against the first motion to recommend approval, questioned why the town shouldn’t be looking at what’s called phase 2 of the site development, which includes an adjoining lot to the south that formerly had a house on it. According to his ARP application, Bangstad wants to add a seasonal beer garden and tasting room. That would require a conditional use permit, with, again, a requirement for more parking spaces.

Naumann replied they want to move ahead with the building renovation (phase 1) as soon as possible so they can open in the spring. The structure has significant water damage, and they may have to deal with abandoned fuel tanks and soil contamination, he said. Roof repair, complete electrical and plumbing tasks lie ahead also. All total, the renovation and other code work is estimated at $250,000, he said.

The yellow-glazed brick building was built in 1931, serving as a gas station until it closed in 1970. It then became an auto detailing shop with some bicycle rentals. Bangstad purchased the building in 2021. His plans now are to have the retail outlet open three or four days a week.

Once the structure work is complete, Bangstad wants to pursue having it listed on the Wisconsin State Historical Register, according to the ARP application.

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