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197-199 North St.

Prison City Pub & Brewery plans to build a new production facility at 197-199 North St. in Auburn.

The lineup of suspects was long, but Prison City Pub & Brewery has selected an Auburn location for its new production facility.

Brewery co-owner Dawn Schulz said Tuesday that the facility will be built at 197-199 North St. The 2.13-acre property, at the corner of North and Standart Avenue, was formerly the home of Jam-O's Car Wash, which was demolished this summer. Prison City is buying the property from the Kyle family, Schulz said.

Schulz said she and her husband, Marc, considered more than a dozen sites in Auburn and another dozen outside the city, as far as Rochester and Ithaca, for their brewery's new facility. But the North Street site won out for several reasons. Being in Auburn, it has city utilities like water, electrical and sewer. And by building the brewery from scratch, Schulz said, Prison City's need for those utilities can be met precisely.

"Retrofitting a building to become a brewery wouldn't be as beneficial to our manufacturing process," she said. 

That stretch of North Street is also high-traffic, Schulz said, averaging almost 13,000 vehicles a day. The traffic light at the site will provide easy access to the facility. And the size of the property will allow Prison City to create about 70 parking spots, she added.

More than the tangible benefits of the site, however, staying in Auburn was important to Prison City's identity, Schulz said.

"Prison City doesn't really make sense outside of the Auburn area," she said. "We really love this community."

The facility's construction will be contracted to the Kyle family's KyleCroft Development, Schulz said. Likely to be titled Prison City Brewing, it will be about 20,000 square feet, with a little more than half of that space dedicated to beer production. The facility will also include a 4,500-square-foot courtyard, titled The Yard, as well as a tasting room, kitchen, office space and dining/event space.

About 20 to 25 full-time jobs will be created by the facility, Schulz said. At first it will open for customers on weekends only, though that could change as Prison City assesses demand. Staff will also brew there during the week, she added.

The facility's brewing system will produce about 10,000 barrels annually, Schulz said, though she noted that it will take Prison City some time to master the system to reach that figure. There will also be a "foeder forest" of the large wooden barrels for aging sours, stouts and other beers, and a line for bottling them. A canning line, meanwhile, will package the brewery's popular hoppy beers, like its critically acclaimed Mass Riot India pale ale.

Releases of Mass Riot and other Prison City beers have routinely attracted lines of people outside the State Street brewpub. The demand for brewer Ben Maeso's beers led the Schulzes to announce their plan to build the production facility in the summer of 2016. The brewery opened in December 2014 with a 2.5-barrel system, and has since expanded into the basement of its space with more fermenters to raise its annual production to about 1,000 barrels. Schulz said the opening of the facility will allow Prison City to dedicate the brewpub's system to small-batch beers and research and development, but otherwise, the downtown space will remain as is.

The Schulzes at first looked to open the facility at 39 Genesee St., the former Nolan's Sporting Goods, as an anchor tenant of the city's Riverside Regional Public Market. As the market project stalled, the Schulzes began searching elsewhere, including 4022 Technology Park Blvd. in Auburn, before selecting the North Street site. 

During that time, Prison City was designated to receive $900,000 in state funding through the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council. Schulz said those funds may be reimbursed to Prison City over the next five years based on the money it spends to build the facility and the number of jobs it creates.

Schulz said Prison City will submit its plans for the facility to the city planning board in December. She hopes to break ground in the spring and open by fall 2019. Though that timeline may seem "aggressive," Schulz said, it follows years of planning and working with architects and engineers to make Prison City's expansion happen.

"We're excited to move forward with a location," she said. "We feel like we've done so much research on so many locations that now it's time."

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I'm the features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com, and have been here since 2006. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.