By Colleen King
On Monday, October 21st, the fate of the Mid-city Beer Garden was confirmed. The Metro City Council approved the proposal to rezone a bald plot of land on the corner of Government St. and Steele Blvd. and turn it into a bike-friendly, walking-distance community space. The re-zoning was completely unopposed and passed unanimously (not a common occurrence at the BR Metro City Council). When the news originally broke on the co-owners’ (Kelli Paxton, Dave Remmetter, and Brian Baiamonte) zoning application, there were some opponents, but Paxton, Remmetter, and Baiamonte did their neighborly duty. “If we didn’t have the entire community and neighborhood on board, I don’t think it would have gotten pushed through… At those council meetings… their first question is always ‘What does the neighborhood think about it? The surrounding community- are they on board/in support of this?’ So we did our homework ahead of time- we canvassed the neighborhood, and went in prepared knowing that we had the support of the community,” says Paxton. Since the original town hall meeting on August 31st when the community and Councilwoman Denise Marcelle met to discuss the zoning proposal, the voices of support have either drowned out or convinced the voices of the original opponents. The owners have publicly addressed concerns about noise pollution, traffic, and parking, assuring their new neighbors that the beer garden will not be a loud, noisy bar, but a casual, community space. Paxton says the beer garden will primarily be an “outdoor green space enclosed by a covered pavilion where the community can gather, have a conversation, and grab a beer.”
Paxton thinks the community support shows how progressive mid-city thinking has become, “Over a hundred people showed up on bikes to that Grace Mid-city town hall meeting, so that really shows that our side of town is ready to be the type of community that gets around by bike or on foot.” When asked if they were planning on hosting community events, Paxton mentioned that the owners have already been approached by people interested in putting up an arts market or a farmers’ market at the establishment, but nothing is confirmed yet. The zoning application was only the first step, albeit a necessary one. The beer garden’s current timeline now depends on construction documents, city parking requirements, and too many other details to mention here. But community support is the most important detail. Says Paxton, “We are so grateful and thankful of the Ogden Park Civic Association, the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association, and Mid City Redevelopment for their eloquent letters of endorsement… They are the guys that really made it happen.” While we may not know what beer or food will be served, surprises are surely in store for us from this new business, and the all-important heart-and-minds campaign is officially won.