An entrepreneur who could receive $445,000 in loans and a grant from St. Paul to open a taproom in an old firehouse defaulted on a public loan for a brewery he owns in Faribault, records show.
With the help of the city financing, Travis Temke plans to buy the decommissioned Fire Engine House No. 10 at 754 Randolph Av. in St. Paul. He told the city he would renovate the building and open a taproom, dining space, banquet hall and coffee shop next year.
The St. Paul Planning and Economic Development department is aware of Temke’s debts to Rice County and other creditors for his Faribault brewery and remains confident in the viability of the project, said department spokeswoman Hannah Burchill. The financing and sale of the firehouse are awaiting final approvals, she said.
Temke’s F-Town Brewing Co. in Faribault opened in 2015. The brewery uses equipment bought with a $50,000 loan that the Rice County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) approved in 2014, and more than $40,000 remains to be paid, according to Rice County Attorney John Fossum.
County documents show the Rice County HRA board twice denied requests to amend the loan agreement. Temke sought to move the brewery to St. Paul and re-pay the loan from there, but the board said no, according to Fossum and Rice County Housing Director Joy Watson.
“The HRA board wanted [F-Town Brewing] to pay off their note before they leave the county,” Fossum said.
In an interview. Temke said F-Town Brewing and the proposed taproom in St. Paul are separate entities. He said he has spent the past 18 months trying to work out the loan issue in Rice County. While other lenders have agreed to a resolution, he said, the county has not. “It’s ongoing and it will be resolved,” he said.
A creditors’ meeting for F-Town Brewing’s debt is scheduled for Tuesday. Loans include $75,000 from the Faribault Economic Development Authority (EDA), $50,000 from the Faribault Industrial Corporation and $200,000 from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
The Faribault Industrial Corporation did not respond to a request for comment.
Diane Lewis, lending officer for Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, said in an e-mail that the foundation “has a good relationship with F-Town,” adding, “I cannot give you confidential information.”
Deanna Kuennen, Faribault Community and Economic Development director, said in an e-mail that the EDA has moved the F-Town loan into “deferred” status. There is a remaining principal balance of $65,785.68, she said.
“Interest is accruing, but while [Temke] is structuring the financing for the St. Paul project — with the intent of making the EDA whole as part of that — we would not put his loan in a default status or do anything to negatively impact his project,” she said.
The St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority awarded tentative developer status to Temke’s company, MOE Craft Company, LLC, last year over 11 other applicants.
Creditors and others with knowledge of F-Town Brewing’s debt say St. Paul city staff have not contacted them. Those people include Kuennen, Fossum, Rice County Administrator Sara Folsted and David Hvistendahl, F-Town’s landlord.
St. Paul Fire Engine House No. 10 was appraised at a fair-market value of $400,000, according to the St. Paul HRA. The city will loan Temke the purchase price of $220,000, which he doesn’t have to repay if he hires people who may otherwise have a difficult time finding jobs, such as people with disabilities and people with criminal backgrounds.
Temke is also slated to receive a $100,000 grant and a $125,000 loan from St. Paul’s Neighborhood STAR program. A city document outlining 2018 STAR awards shows MOE Craft Company agreed to match that money by raising an additional $1.9 million.