NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County commissioners unanimously approved $253,813 in economic development incentives Tuesday to encourage a Tampa brewery to open a new location in a commercial building it purchased last year in Wesley Chapel.
Brew Bus Brewing, which does business as Florida Avenue Brewing Company at its popular Seminole Heights home, purchased the new site at 2029 Arrowgrass Drive in Wesley Chapel for $3.9 million under the name Specialty Malls of Tampa, Inc. At the time of the purchase last year, a press release from the company announced plans for a craft beer microbrewery, beer garden, restaurant and event space in the 34,000-square-foot building.
Pasco County’s economic development team, which recommended and negotiated the incentive package, told commissioners that they anticipate the annual contribution to the county’s gross product to be $15.7 million.
Under the incentive plan approved by commissioners without discussion Tuesday, the company plans a total capital investment for the project to be an estimated $12.9 million, including renovations to the existing building, which was previously a sports and fitness club. When open, the site will employ 42 workers.
When the property purchase was announced, county officials expressed support, noting that breweries were becoming a real tourist draw, and re-purposing an old structure to a popular new use would be beneficial to the county.
The county’s incentives include $126,000 for creating new jobs, $50,000 as an employee training grant for Pasco-based employees and $77,813 in reimbursement for utility service connection fees. Funding for those incentives comes both from the Office of Economic Growth incentives account and the Penny for Pasco economic development account.
Brew Bus Brewing and Specialty Malls of Tampa are businesses of Joe Redner of Tampa, whose interests have included owning strip clubs, making real estate investments, running for political office and advocating for medical marijuana. He founded Brew Bus in 2011 with Toni Derby and her son Anthony Derby.
The company is known for its craft brews and bus tours of Tampa craft beer establishments.