Why downtown’s iconic Imperial Brewery will soon face the wrecking ball
Kansas City has long loved the local lager. The vacant Imperial Brewery The menacing Co. building on I-35 just south of downtown Kansas City is proof of that.
Built in 1902, at its peak, the six-story brick brewery produced some 300,000 barrels of beer a year. Signature beers were Mayflower and Imperial Seal. It has been vacant for forty years.
In 1850, there were only six thousand Kansas City residents and two breweries. As the city’s population grew, so did its thirst. In 1900, Kansas City had about three hundred and fifty pubs for two hundred thousand people.
Seeing an opportunity to meet the city’s beer demand, a group of St. Louis investors along with some local saloon owners joined forces and hired German immigrant Ludwig Breitag to build a grand scale, ” at the cutting edge of technology”. Brewery. Originally built in a late-Victorian Romanesque style, the large main building had a tall central tower with arched windows and several smaller ancillary structures, such as an icehouse and stable.
A few years later, the brewery changed hands and was purchased by a new consortium called the Kansas City Brewery Company. In 1910, the factory was one of the main suppliers in the region.
The ban devastated the local beer industry. The brewery was converted into a flour mill known as Moulin du Boulevard. The mill was successful and finally closed in 1985, says Jeremiah Dean, whose family real estate company bought the property in 2007 and has owned it for fifteen years.
“At one point we toyed with the idea of making it a boutique hotel, maybe a few boutiques,” Dean explains. “There were a lot of ideas about the old brewery.”
Dean Realty began renovating and restoring the building, stripping the plant of its old milling equipment. In 2011, the Old Brewery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dean’s family business merged with another local real estate company, Copaken Brooks, where he joined as Vice President. Dean says the company was pushed by officials in Jackson County and Kansas City seeks to demolish the dilapidated structure and create a new development opportunity. At some point, the old building will be gone – its location, layout and dilapidated physical state make its rehabilitation financially unviable.