Location, Location, Location!
I'm stuck between a killer location or a place of growth. Lots of money for Location (lease rate, demo, and full build out) or a lot less money (lease rate, no demo, just drains and some utilities meters) but tucked back in a secret corner of the world. Many brewers say, build it and people will come. Yes, they will come, provided you give them a good map.
Before you venture out seeking your own brewery space, please educate yourself about how commercial real estate leases work (gross vs. NNN, CAMS). Landlords and property managers will want your current business plan with up to date financials. They will pull your credit. They will want to know what your burn rate is (how much cash do you have on hand and can go through before you close shop.) Understand what your brewery system utilities requirements are. Bring your trades (at least plumbing and electrical) with you to the sites until you have learned what to look for in the plumbing, gas and electrical requirements. It is VERY expensive to bring in more electrical (3-phase), larger water main regulators and larger gas lines. If you don't recognize anything I just wrote or why it's important, I would be in your best interest to find some good trades that will visit the site with you. Most are very willing to quote the job and be part of a the birth of a local brewery. With them you will learn a ton visiting your potential brewery site.
But most important, don't waste people's time and energy if you are not in a financial position to act. It gives craft beer a bad image. Get all your beer bottles in a row before contacting a Real Estate Agent (email me if you want an awesome agent referral. Thanks Mike!)
All that being said, I have an incredible team of tradesmen and an awesome real estate agent. Space on the Westside of Los Angeles is tight and getting tighter. Most of the properties zoned for industrial manufacturing for a brewery is being commandeered by Tech, post production, and the likes. Property managers can get $2.85-3.25 a square foot for urban office space instead of $1.50-1.65 for manufacturing/warehousing. Almost all the industrial spaces have been converted to urban office space.
When you look at a space, here are some things to consider:
Electrical - 3-phase (a must)
Water - at least 1.25 inch diameter, 2 inches is awesome! Bigger the better
Gas - 1.5 inch diameter would be great
Existing drains - Then you wouldn't have to cut them in
Ceiling heights - at least 14ft, a 30 bbl fermentor might fit.
Depth of Sewer main - you want it deep. Your trench drains won't drain properly if it's not deep enough.
Room to expand - room to grow (very important and should be at the top of the list!)
Truck access - loading dock doors, would be great if there was a high dock.
ADA bathrooms - separate for men and women (Tasting room requirement for LA City)
Venting - will they let you punch holes into the roof?
Parking - Culver City is strict about onsite parking, Santa Monica not as much, LA City is negotiable)
proximity to schools and residences
Local City Council view of breweries (they can help or hinder your petition for your conditional use permit for a tasting room)
I may say that I'm stuck, but really, I already know which site is the future home of Three Weavers. I'll unveil the location after the ink is dry.