Plan for Sand Springs brewery in historic building gets extension
BY SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer
Monday, October 08, 2012
4/19/13 at 11:27 AM
SAND SPRINGS - Ken Alexander hasn't given up on transforming the old power plant into a brewery and the city's leadership hasn't either.
The City Council has granted Alexander, an area architect, another year to secure $8 million in financing to make the SpringLoaded Brewery a reality.
"I don't know what it would take for me to give up on it," Alexander said. "I just think it's too good of an idea."
Mayor Mike Burdge said there was really no good reason not to give Alexander more time to secure funding on a project that would make Sand Springs a destination.
The mammoth red brick plant was built by Charles Page in 1911 to power all the industries he brought to the town. Preservation and reuse of the structure at the corner of Main Street and Morrow Road could breathe new life into the city.
"We'd like not to destroy a historic building like that," Burdge said. "It's not a pie in the sky, but it's definitely a dream."
Alexander signed an agreement with the city in May 2010 to buy the property for $250,000, with the stipulation that Alexander was to receive up to $250,000 in historic tax credits for restoring and renovating the plant.
Alexander has commitment letters for state and federal historic tax credits. But he said that securing the loan for such a "startup" business has been next to impossible in the current banking climate. Alexander said he doesn't even believe it will be possible until after the presidential election.
A fundraising effort is also planned in coming months.
Success of the brewery is hoped to spur development in the former industrial zone cleared for development with Vision 2025 funds across the street. It's also thought to complement the city's plans to widen Main Street to the Arkansas River where the Vision2-proposed low-water dam is only a block away.
Burdge admits that Sand Springs itself has been a tough sell largely due to the economy.
But there are signs that it may deserve a chance.
"We have a Rib Crib, and it's been their number one store since they opened it," Burdge said. "The IHOP has exceeded expectations and Walmart is meeting its goals."
Alexander grew up in Tulsa and never thought much of the "blue collar" town.
Sand Springs never really came up unless its most famous resident, Charles Page, was mentioned.
But then he designed a home for himself on Lake Keystone and started to see the possibilities of downtown Sand Springs as he passed by it each day on his commute to his downtown Tulsa office.
Some see a town dominated by the ruins of an industrial era, but Alexander sees a quaint downtown with a rich history surrounded by wooded hills and a river running through it.
"It's just an untapped area in my opinion," he said.
By saving and re-purposing the power plant, Alexander sees his efforts as the next-century approach to breathing life to the area. At full capacity, Alexander said he would employ about 120 people.
"I'd like to get Sand Springs transformed into something it deserves to be," he said. "I'm just totally passionate about revitalizing this building and revitalizing Sand Springs to what it used to be."
The beer: Making and selling your own brew is a tricky prospect due to state laws. Alexander said he will not let that deter him and plans on brewing several 3.2 percent alcohol beers that can be sold directly in the restaurant, which will feature local foods and a view of the brewery.
"We're going to have some of the best 3.2 beers in the state," he said.
His stronger beers will have to be sold to a distributor then repurchased, which will cut into profits, he said.
"The Oklahoma brewers are all working hard to make it work. There are 10 to 11 breweries in Oklahoma. Colorado (where the craft beer industry thrives) has 141," he said.
All of his labels play on the power plant theme: High Voltage, Live Wire, Big Dynamo, etc.
"It takes time to build a beer brand. There's nothing easy about anything we're doing," he said.
Event center: The former boiler room would be large enough for a 700-seat concert or a 400-party wedding or banquet.
"I turn down events all the time," Alexander said. "That's what's driving me crazy."
Restoration: The goal is to keep and preserve the building's original exterior and the large, interior open spaces and sky-high ceilings. Alexander would put in windows where they existed originally. "This is an industrial building and making beer is an industrial act," Alexander said. "We're going to try to incorporate everything and use what the building has given us. There's so much human effort in this building. That's why it's worth saving."
The team: Alexander has had success in commercial ventures including the Rib Crib restaurants and the new QuikTrip prototype stores.
He's the first to say that he has put together a team of "old dogs," but people with plenty of recognition under their belts who want to accomplish something great.
They include Chef Rick Kamp, former owner of Rick's Cafe Americain; Colorado brew consultant Tim Lenahan; longtime local advertising producer Jim Bloyed of Bloyed Creative; and Hap Herndon of Global Hospitality Solutions in Dallas.
Original Print Headline: Sand Springs plan brewing
Susan Hylton 918-581-8381
Ken Alexander tours the old Sand Springs power plant where he plans to put in the SpingLoaded Brewery at 212 S. Main St. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World
Ken Alexander proposes to keep the high-ceiling, open-space interior of the old Sand Springs power plant for his SpringLoaded Brewery. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World
Ken Alexander holds a six pack of Lucky Rascal Lager in the old Sand Springs Power Plant where he plans to put in the Spingloaded Brewery. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World