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City of Hartford receives $159,000 state grant to support redevelopment of historic riverfront building

June 17, 2022
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WEDC investment to help fund opening of taphouse and outdoor patio

HARTFORD, WI. JUNE 17, 2022 – The City of Hartford is receiving a $159,000 state grant to help open Brewed Omen, a taphouse in the lower level of the historic Millstream Building. The taphouse is designed to be a charming, attractive spot and continue the trend of redevelopment in downtown Hartford.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support renovations to the Millstream Building’s lower level. Electrical, HVAC and bathroom work will help convert the 2,600 square foot space into Brewed Omen, which will also include an outdoor patio overlooking the Rubicon River.

The taphouse will mostly feature beers unavailable in local stores, all of which will be brewed within two hours of Hartford. Hartford currently doesn’t have a brewpub or taphouse in its downtown. Brewed Omen expects to add eight employees, at least one of which will be full-time, over the next three years.

“A taphouse like Brewed Omen should serve as an attractive gathering spot for Hartford residents and visitors alike,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s leading economic development organization. “We’re proud to support this project, as it should offer immense economic and cultural value to downtown Hartford.”

Bill and Ane Ohm purchased the Millstream Building in 2020 because Ane Ohm needed a new space for her business, Staffing Support Specialists. It now occupies one of the building’s second-level office spaces.

With the City of Hartford having identified the need for a downtown taphouse, the Ohms decided to put the Millstream Building’s unoccupied lower level to use.

“It was something we were interested in putting together,” Bill Ohm said. “We were aware of the city’s vision, and then the opportunity presented itself when my wife’s business had to relocate.”

“We identified that particular use in that particular building because of its location on the river and its ability to have an outdoor area, which we really don’t have anywhere else in the city,” said Justin Drew, Hartford’s director of community development.

A staple in downtown Hartford since 1886, the Millstream Building has been used for meat storage, indoor golf, funerals and other purposes. It was for sale and in need of maintenance for years before the Ohms purchased it in 2020 and began renovating. The upper level is now home to Staffing Support Specialists and the Hartford Area Development Corporation, while the main level has two retail spaces.

“The track record of success for recent building redevelopments, but especially Ohm’s, could inspire others to look at available property downtown in a new way and see possibilities, where maybe they mostly saw challenges before,” Drew said. “Our vacancy rate is one of the lowest it’s been in over a decade, so downtown is definitely trending in the right direction and this project is an important part of that.”

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

“The grant from WEDC was critical to our financing,” Ohm said. “I don’t think we would have proceeded without it.”

From the program’s inception in 2013 through March, WEDC has awarded nearly $34.8 million in CDI Grants to 166 communities for projects expected to generate more than $517 million in capital investments statewide.

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