WALLINGFORD — A new brewery set to open this weekend may kickstart changes to an overlooked block of uptown.
Center Street Brewing Company, 25 Wallace Ave., is planning an official opening from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Eight beers will be on tap.
“We’re excited about it,” said Peter Ford, co-owner and head brewer, “and it’s going to be a nice day Saturday. We hope to open the garage door and the front door.”
The opening will also feature pretzels by Alyssa’s Cakery made from grains used to make their beer, Ford said, as well as pizza and stuffed breads from Laudano’s Pizza.
He hopes to continue teaming up with local restaurants and eventually collaborate on events with other local breweries.
For opening weekend, Ford anticipates “a pretty steady crowd of people.”
“We were waiting to see if we had enough beer to sustain an opening and keep up with demand,” he said. “We’re in a good place to weather whatever we get for numbers over the weekend.”
Tim Ryan, town economic development specialist, said the brewery business “is going to bring life to Wallace Avenue.”
“Wallace Avenue has been a very quiet and unassuming street for decades,” Ryan said. “I would bet most people don’t know where it is, but they drive by it all the time.”
Wallace Avenue is accessible off Center Street, behind the intersection of North Main and Center streets. It’s an area of town that is seeing renewed development activity, from the new brewery, to the demolition of the Wooding building behind the police station, to possible new housing at 350 Center St.
Vincenzo DiNatale, owner of the building at 350 Center St., applied in December 2018 for a change of use that would allow housing units to replace offices on the second floor.
The Town Center District, established in August 2018 when the Planning and Zoning Commission created new zoning regulations to encourage downtown redevelopment, allows housing as a permitted use.
“We are hopeful to apply the regulation to redevelop our properties with long-term, viable uses and improve the downtown experience,” DiNatale said in an email.
Town Planner Kacie Hand said she anticipates that when the application goes before the PZC, the discussion will be around how to apply the new zoning regulations to parking behind the building, which it shares with J. Christian’s, 9 N. Main St., and J.J. Fishbein Insurance, 21 N. Main St.
The lot size is 38,545 square feet, or .88 acres, and has 50 parking spaces.
According to the application, the second floor of 350 Center St., used for offices, is about 8,100 square feet. The first floor, used as office, retail and restaurant space, is about 5,200 square feet. A gap in the street-level first floor allows vehicles to access the parking lot. No exterior expansion is planned, the application states, nor changes to the site parking or the open area, except for utility connections.
The application was on the PZC agenda for March 11, but the commission didn’t hear the application at that meeting.