By facilitating the leasing, then the purchase of two neighboring sites in West Chester, Pillar Real Estate Advisors is helping to establish a new destination for craft-beer lovers in the borough.
A commercial real estate brokerage firm based in West Chester, Pillar represents buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants. In the past year, the firm showcased its full-service capabilities by bringing together two brewers and a landlord in a leasing agreement on two separate properties. And when the same landlord later decided to sell both buildings, Pillar helped the brewers become buyers of their new space.
The two brewers, Wrong Crowd Beer Company (342 Hannum Avenue) and Artillery Brewing (333 Granite Alley), now occupy their own brewing and retail space in the borough triangle bordered by West Gay Street, North Wayne Street, and Hannum Avenue.
By the time Artillery was looking for a new location, Wrong Crowd had already moved into the Hannum Street site that Pillar helped it lease. According to Pillar’s Andrew Turner, Artillery Brewing had already looked at a couple of warehouses in town before contacting his firm.
“We told them there was a spot near another brewery, and that they may like to have another brewery near them for some synergy, and to create a destination in that area,” said Turner. “They seemed excited about that, and when we checked with Wrong Crowd, they were onboard as well. Both brewers thought they could establish a little niche over there and create a destination on that side of town.”
Mike Loveless, co-owner of Artillery Brewing, whose Battlefield Ales are named after Revolutionary War battlefields, remembers the day he first saw the future home of his brewery that would allow him and his partner to brew on a larger scale.
“I can almost hear Andrew’s voice in my head now when he said, ‘I have a place in the borough that could be perfect for you,’” said Loveless. “It was just past St. Agnes Church, and when we went over to look at it, we liked it immediately. It was going to take a lot of work to turn into what we needed, but we signed the lease in January 2020 and moved our stuff in February. Four weeks later, the pandemic hit.”
Eventually, the same person – who owned the former distribution warehouse Wrong Crowd was leasing, as well as the former gym Artillery Brewing was leasing – decided to sell the properties.
“We ran the comps to make sure the value was there for our landlord,” said Turner, “and we approached the brewers who were both interested in purchasing their buildings. In both cases, they had their own bankers and pursued it that way. We offered our resources in terms of inspectors and in negotiating the deal between both parties. In the end, they both saw it as an investment in West Chester and as a way of controlling their destiny. It worked out for both of them.”
What about competition between the two brewers who are now close neighbors?
“We each focus on different types of beer, and the market is open to that,” said Loveless. “When people come to Wrong Crowd, they visit us, too, and when people come to us, they go around the corner to them as well. We are competitors, but we share advice and guidance with each other. Micro-brewing is a very collaborative industry.”
Loveless was also quick to note the collaborative relationship he enjoyed with Pillar Real Estate Advisors in general, and with Turner in particular.
“When we met him, he was representing the landlord, and yet he was very open and transparent,” said Loveless. “We didn’t go and get our own realtor, so he was looking out for what we wanted to do, and obviously it was in the best interests of his landlord to get the best fit. He really spent time getting to know our business, our vision, and our needs. He truly looked at us like a partner even though he was representing the landlord, and that helped to create a degree of trust and comfort.”
Now, with COVID-19 restrictions easing, locals can once again frequent their favorite restaurant or bar. For Turner, the chance to attend the opening of Artillery Brewing – at the location he helped it lease, then purchase – was a thrill.
“To go to the grand opening last month and see people all around working, eating, and drinking … it was extremely fulfilling!”