The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Changes brewing on Northgate


The College Station City Council voted Thursday to allow micro-breweries and micro-wineries on Northgate. The council also agreed to raise parking rates in the Northgate district during game days and peak hours.
Lunch parking prices were reduced from $0.75 per hour to no charge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a change that could help businessmen like Chris Steele, who has owned O’Bannon’s Taphouse for eight years and will open Blackwater Draw Brewing Company, Northgate’s first micro-brewery, in September.
“Free parking for lunch, that’s great,” he said. “I own a business already on Northgate and we aren’t open for lunch, we don’t have food there. But I could see how it can benefit anybody, whether that’s the Dixie Chicken or anybody.”
Beginning Aug. 19, game day rates in the Northgate Garage will climb from $10 to $20 while the surface lot and street meters will increase from $2 to $3.50 per hour.
During peak hours of 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on non-game days, surface lot prices will increase from $2 an hour to $2.50 and street meters will charge $0.75 an hour, increased from their current free rate.
The council approved changes as a result of the city expecting to lose $130,000 without a change in pricing. Currently the Northgate parking enterprise fund has not generated enough money to cover the cost of the garage and the costs associated with the maintenance of it, the surface lot and parking meters.
“Sometimes we forget what the original purpose was for the parking situation that we are facing throughout the Northgate area,” Councilman Karl Mooney said at the meeting. “With that in mind, I don’t think it’s fair to expect that a parking garage on its own is going to pay for itself. We have to look at the parking operation throughout Northgate, which is what this particular plan does. Yes it increases the rates for the parking garage so it will be more responsible to it’s own costs.”
With the changes, a projected $180,150 in annual revenue is expected. Mooney said at the meeting there would most likely always be a line to park in the area at peak hours, despite the
changes implemented.
“Those of us fortunate enough to do ride-alongs with our police department see where there is a line waiting to get in the parking garage at 11 o’clock or 12 o’clock at night,” Mooney said. “It doesn’t matter what has gone on during the day.”
Senior electrical engineering major Schoppe Julson said free parking during lunch hours will drive him to the Northgate area more than before.
“There have been plenty of times I’ve avoided eating anywhere on Northgate simply because paid parking would be an issue,” he said. “I think it will help the lunchtime eateries that need the business the most, and likewise, I don’t think the Northgate bar scene is going to have their business hurt by raising night
time rates.”
Steele noted that Northgate was not previously zoned properly for micro-industrial businesses to operate. The approval by the council changed that, so businesses like Blackwater Draw can
manufacture alcohol.
“In eight years we’ve seen the craft brew market boom,” Steele said. “The craft beer market is bigger in America than it’s ever been.”
Laws in Texas have changed in recent months, allowing micro-breweries to actually distribute craft beers. While Steele said his company does not have plans to distribute anytime soon, they will have the option to bring a local brew to other bars and grocery stores in the future.
Blackwater Draw anticipates being open during the day and on game days, meaning many of the parking changes will have a great impact on Steele and his customers.
“We’re competing with the rest of town on the food side during the daytime business, but we’re the only place in town where you have to pay to park,” he said. “So there’s a huge disadvantage there, and this will hopefully level the playing field.”
Students have echoed Steele’s observations on craft beer’s success around the country.
“Microbreweries will make people go visit Northgate during the day more, I believe,” said senior applied mathematical sciences major Johnny Gustafson. “But the real game changer is the
Steele said the increased interest in localized brews from a hometown or home state makes the drinking experience more personal.
“I think people take pride in their local beer, whether it’s even from their own state,” Steele said. “If we have a quality product, it’s something that this town will be proud of. It’ll be a destination spot.”
Students like Julson said the parking changes and presence of micro-industrial businesses across the street from campus will certainly draw him and countless other Aggies.
“I absolutely think a microbrewery would succeed at Northgate,” Julson said. “If there’s two things Aggies are known for it’s their loyalty to all things Aggie and their love for beer. Put those together and you’ve got a winning combination. Imagine if you could go to the Dixie Chicken or any other bar for that matter and get a maroon beer or an ‘Ole Sarge Stout’. I think that could very easily be the start of a new tradition and is something I’d be more than willing to get behind.”

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