One of the pioneers of the craft beer industry in East Vancouver is facing closure.
The small space on Commercial Drive that’s home to Storm Brewing has been sold.
The new landlord isn’t interested in renewing the lease.
Owner James Walton now has to find a new location for his 1,000 hectolitre brewing operation.
There aren’t many options. Industrial/commercial space is at a premium in Vancouver, and what few vacant spots there are garner a premium lease rate.
“When I started here in the 90s my total rent was $1,500 a month, which included property taxes,” Walton said.
“My property tax bill alone went up 25 per cent alone last year. And anywhere I want to move I might be paying twice as much as I pay now.
“The building sold for $6.5 million. I couldn’t have bought it even if i wanted to… It’s an insane amount of money for a cinder block building.”
It’s not just brewers facing exorbitant rent increases. It’s across the board — especially hard hit are small business owners.
Industrial land has become scarce right across Metro Vancouver. The City of Vancouver is undertaking a review of industrial and commercial land looking at ways to protect land that it considers job creating.
Storm Brewing’s lease is up two years from now, but according to Walton, the owner has told him he can move out whenever he wants. There are plans for the $6.5 million dollar piece of property.
But one of the foundations of Vancouver’s craft beer industry might be forced to find another city to open up shop.