CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For decades, the building at 615 Hancock Avenue in Corpus Christi was home to a dry cleaners.
But for the past several years, it's sat empty in the area near Vernon's bar and restaurant and Gaslight Square.
Soon, it will reopen as Casablanca Brewery — the dream of San Diego, Texas native and current Corpus Christi resident Baltazar Ramirez.
“I'm finally in a spot where I can comfortably open one — manageable, but not too expensive," he said. "That’s what kind of led me to this situation, and I’m liking it so far.”
The home-brewer and frequent customer at other breweries estimates that it will take $38,500 to renovate the building and to start producing a variety of beers to serve there.
Ramirez would like to start with light and Mexican lagers, India Pale Ales, and stouts, but he plans to eventually add hard seltzers, sours, and other trendy selections.
His costs are being offset by a New Commercial Tenant Finish Out Grant through Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3, an economic development tool that sets aside tax money from a specific area, into a fund to be used in that same area.
“Seventy seven hundred (dollars) is what I got," Ramirez said. "I mean, it’s a big help especially starting small with a budget."
The Downtown Management District helps facilitate TIRZ money in the greater downtown area.
Executive Director Alyssa Barrera Mason says they're excited about the new microbrewery.
“We think it’s really going to add to the vibrancy and a really wonderful residential corridor that’s been developing,” she said.
Downtown Corpus Christi suffered business losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Barrera Mason said Casablanca Brewery is another example of the area's recovery.
"We think it’s a really strong time for us here in Downtown Corpus Christi, and we’re excited to add to that mix,” she said.
In a perfect world, Ramirez would like to open his brewery in August, but he said between September and October is more likely, with November-December at the very latest.
Eventually, he'd like to team-up with other area breweries and distilleries to put on an event that could attract locals and tourists alike.
“It would be nice to finally have Corpus to have it’s own beer and alcohol festival," Ramirez said. "So that would be pretty cool.”