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The Grand Forks Jobs Development Authority gave final approval Monday night for a city loan to help construct a brewery in downtown Grand Forks.

Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks, owners of the Rhombus Guys pizza restaurant, are planning to turn part of the historic Metropolitan Opera House into a brewery with a bar and restaurant.

“We’re moving forward with it,” Winjum said after the meeting.

The pair requested a $53,846 FlexPace loan to buy down the interest on part of a Bremer Bank loan on the building. The FlexPace loan also will leverage a $100,000 Bank of North Dakota grant.

They hope to begin construction this fall, with an opening in spring 2015, according to the loan request. They plan to hire a head brewer, assistant brewer and two additional brewers.

The total cost of the project, including the renovation of the 124-year-old building at 116 S. Third St., is expected to be around $2 million.

Separation

The loan is only targeting the brewery part of the business, and not the restaurant or bar, according to Keith Lund, the vice president of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp.

In addition to selling the beer on site, the Rhombus Guys plan on distributing it throughout the region, which would help the Grand Forks Growth Fund meet one of its goals of bringing new wealth into the community, Lund previously explained.

A couple of Grand Forks City Council members, who make up the JDA, raised concerns about making sure there’s a clear distinction between the brewery and the rest of the business. Council member Ken Vein suggested that the Rhombus Guys could make it a separate corporate entity.

Winjum said that move would only make things more complicated because they would have to purchase their own beer from a wholesaler at the Opera House site. He added the financial records and physical barrier will keep the brewery separate from the restaurant.

“In talking with our financial advisers, our accountants, our attorneys, bankers, it really made no sense for us to create a whole other legal entity when we’re separated out anyway,” Winjum said.