Wake County

Trophy Brewing marks first sign of revitalization in Raleigh’s South Saunders Street corridor

The new 10,000-square-foot Trophy Brewing on Maywood Avenue is a stark contrast to the aging and empty buildings in the neighborhood just south of downtown Raleigh.

With fresh paint and colorful benches, the converted warehouse is one of a handful of buildings on the street that has been given a facelift.

It’s also the first major private investment in what many people consider an overlooked part of the city, and sets the tone for more changes along the South Saunders Street corridor.

“It’s exciting,” said Trophy Brewing co-owner Chris Powers. “Raleigh’s going to be moving this direction anyway. I think it’s a great little stepping stone to downtown.”

Powers and his business partners, David Lockwood and David Meeker, might use the area behind the new brewery for a garden or event space. Eventually, they want to build a stage indoors.

The trio also owns a warehouse next door and plan to turn it into a restaurant in a few years.

The first Trophy Brewing opened in a smaller space on Morgan Street three years ago. That location will remain open.

The Maywood Avenue site, which opened Monday, allows for more brewing operations. In a few years, the company hopes to produce about 5,000 barrels of beer a year. It would make Trophy the third-largest brewery in Raleigh, Powers said.

But the business might also encourage more businesses – and customers – to look to the city’s southern edge. Downtown Raleigh’s development has been slow to reach the South Saunders Street area, leaving much of the corridor neglected.

A consultant hired by the city to study the area reported that the rundown appearance gives people entering Raleigh from the south a negative first impression.

But the area has plenty to offer, according to Barrett Consulting’s report. The south approach offers popular views of the downtown skyline, it has plenty of usable land, and easy access to Interstate 40.

City planning staff started looking at the corridor about a year ago. In September, they presented early options for the area.

A plan, expected to be complete next fall, will address several issues, including street improvements, residential and commercial development and finding an identity for neighborhoods.

“I feel like a lot of times the area is seen as the way you get to Garner and get cheap gas on the way, and not as much what it is,” Anthony McLeod, chairman of the Southwest Citizens Advisory Council, said in September. “It’s a really vibrant residential area that’s got a lot of potential.”

McLeod said he thought the area could easily support new businesses, especially restaurants.

Trophy Brewing chose the area partly because the warehouse had plenty of space. Powers said it was also encouraging to see other development in the area, including new homes across the street.

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh