A Manassas landlord is planning a new brewery for Old Town and looking for an enterprising brewer to run it.
Forrest Odendhal, who owns the buildings that house Public House Kitchen & Brewery as well as The Bone in Manassas, is planning a two-story brewery just a few blocks away, at 9351 East St. The building would be next to the Hynson House, one of the oldest buildings in the city, dating to the late 19th century.
Because of the area’s B-3 zoning, the brewery can be built by right. Later this month, though, it will go back in front of the city’s Architectural Review Board to show that it conforms with the historic overlay district in Old Town. City staff recommended that the board approve the project, but if it doesn’t, Odendhal plans to appeal that decision to City Council.
“Having something there where people can be a little bit away from the traffic and enjoy a meal and a drink and that sort of thing will be pretty nice,” Odendhal told InsideNoVa. “What I want to create is something where people could just walk – there’s new apartment buildings in Old Town – and enjoy a drink and not have to drive.”
Odendhal said he’s heard about a number of breweries that would like to expand to Manassas, but he needs to find a tenant before finalizing the loan with his bank, whether it’s an expansion or a new stand-alone venture. Odendhal, who has also enlisted the help of the Manassas Economic Development Authority, said the construction can be completed within a year of groundbreaking. Warrenton-based architect James Hricko designed the proposed two-story building using materials they believe will blend in with the Old Town aesthetic.
The brewery is proposed for the same parcel as the Hynson House, though the two would be separated by walkways and a lawn. It would feature patio seating in front as well as rooftop seating.
Although it’s been substantially remodeled to accommodate apartment units, the existing Hynson House was constructed between 1870 and 1896, according to city staff. Listed as a contributing structure to the Manassas Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places, the building is “one of the few surviving examples that remain from Manassas’s initial development after the town was platted in 1967,” according to the city’s historic survey of the property.
Odendhal, who bought the property in 2002 for $525,000, said he considered building more housing on the lot, which he called “more of a sure bet.”
But instead, he said that after seeing the way the city’s restaurants and bars survived even through the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and the obvious desire for outdoor dining and drinking, he thought a brewery would succeed. He also said he wanted to build an outdoor space that was big enough to handle events like receptions in Old Town. “I was really excited about this because finally we can have something that ... is available in other places because they have the land to do it.”