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Despite delays, downtown brewery working on its brews
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Despite delays, downtown brewery working on its brews

The Lake Geneva City Council has approved plans for a brewery to be established at Geneva Village Shops

The former First Baptist Church in Lake Geneva has become a retail center, but much of the space inside is vacant.

Beer lovers will have to wait a while longer to quench their thirsts at a downtown Lake Geneva church-turned-brewery.

A brewery planned inside the former First Baptist Church has run into more delays that the developer is blaming on a slow permitting process at the state.

Developer Daniel Schuld, who unveiled his plans a year ago, originally hoped to open the brewery by summer, and then pushed back the schedule until November.

Schuld now says delays by state officials in Madison are causing him to postpone the opening until next spring.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’re just waiting for the state to approve our plans.”

The project in the old church at 727 Geneva St. is pending before the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, which reviews commercial building plans.

Officials at the safety and professional services department could not be reached for comment.

Schuld has been able to do some work, including roof repairs and new doors, and installation of some brewery equipment. He plans Nov. 18 to seek city approval to demolish an old deck on the front of the building.

“We’re just not sitting on our hands,” he said.

Architect Ken Etten, who is working with Schuld, said the developer is working on final interior design plans for the old church, which still needs approval from the state.

“He also plans to create an event space that would be closed off from the main brewery area,” Etten said.

While he is waiting for state approval, Schuld is testing out some of the craft beers that he plans to produce at the brewery. He said he has obtained both a state and federal liquor license to craft the beers.

He plans to make some of his beers available in local stores and restaurants in the near future.

“We want to launch our products and establish a relationship with other businesses,” he said.

The old church currently is the location for the Geneva Village Shops, which includes the Lake Geneva School of Cooking and Breadloaf Bookshop. Schuld hopes to add more tenants and establish family-friendly activities for visitors.

“There’s a lot of good things happening,” he said. “I wish they were happening quicker, but sometimes good things take time.”

Schuld’s plans include an outdoor beer garden at the brewery.

The state safety and professional services department includes different divisions that review permit applications for plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, electrical work and construction.

If the state approves the brewery’s plans, the project then needs Lake Geneva city approval.

The city council approved early plans for the brewery in February.

“The city has been great working with us,” Schuld said. “They have been really helpful in guiding us through the whole process.”

On Nov. 18, Schuld plans to seek city approval to demolish the front deck on the former church.

City building and zoning administrator Fred Walling said the brewery developer hopes to replace the aging deck with a new patio.

“It’s to make it look more inviting,” Walling said.

Although the city has already approved the brewery project, officials still must approve the new patio “to make sure everything is looking good,” Walling said.

The plans originally called for renovating the front deck, but now the idea is to knock it down and replace it with a patio.

“It’s a big, ugly deck,” Schuld said. “We’re putting the charm back into the building. It will be a nice place.”

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