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SAN DIEGO TRANSCRIPT: Callers from across the nation have contacted H.G. Fenton, asking if the San Diego developer will expand its Brewery Igniter to their cities.
The Igniter is a relatively new idea but proving popular.

There may be just one site open in Miramar — with another coming soon to North Park and talks ongoing for two sites in Carlsbad — but the Igniter idea seems to offer what startup brewers lacking substantial capital upfront need to get their business brewing, said Bill Hooper, H.G. Fenton’s commercial portfolio manager.
“It seems to be resonating with the industry,” Hooper said. “We’re super happy about that. We want to be a resource. We want to solidify San Diego as the craft brewery capital of the country.”

New breweries may spend a half million dollars and six to nine months — or longer — to lease a space, purchase and install equipment and obtain all licenses before selling a single pint.

Hooper hopes his company’s Brewery Igniter can be an alternative.

It provides brewers 2,000 square feet of flex industrial space — already equipped with a 10-barrel brew house, a cold box and a tasting room — with short-term flexible leases, at rents based on what it would cost a brewer to take care of all the startup on its own, Hooper said.

“What you’re getting for that premium is reduced risk and reduced capital outlay,” said Hooper, who discussed the concept during a recent luncheon event held by the San Diego chapter of the Building Owners and Managers Association.

The first two turnkey brewing facilities, at 9030 Kenamar Drive, Suites 309 and 308, are now launching pads for Pure Project Brewing, which opened six months after signing its lease, and Amplified Ale Works, an existing Pacific Beach company that needed space to grow its production.

Hooper said those companies have both suggested they’re looking at larger spaces now. The 6,000-square-foot North Park location, at the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and Ohio Street, is expected to open in the third quarter of this year.

The three separate suites are already reserved, Hooper said.

The idea for an Igniter was born from another brewery’s failure: a startup had leased a space from H.G. Fenton, but because of the lengthy time it took the company to secure space, equipment and permits, the investors pulled out and the brewer defaulted on the lease.

That got H.G. Fenton’s team talking.

“Why don’t we build out space? Why don’t we plan? Why don’t we buy equipment? These are things that as real estate firms and owners, we do this every day. Everybody in this room manages this every day,” Hooper said.

If everything is ready to go up front, wannabe brewers would be more likely to have success for their companies with future growth.

“If you’re an investor, or you’re an entrepreneur, that investment profile looks dramatically different,” Hooper said about the igniter’s impacts.

Breweries that prove themselves then have access to a different class of investors who want to look at mature companies, Hooper noted.

The relationship between H.G. Fenton and brewers is just like a typical landlord-tenant relationship, though the firm includes some marketing of the breweries in its own marketing of the Igniter brand. The first clients were reached through social media, Hooper said.

Interest is coming from South Bay now, besides the ongoing conversations H.G. Fenton is having in Carlsbad, which has been a difficult place for breweries to open as compared to its North County neighbors.

*This article written by Katie Thisdell was published in the San Diego Transcript on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Read the full San Diego Transcript article here.

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