Sanford's brewing reputation attracts investors to historic train depot property

The City of Sanford received plans to build a brewery in a former train depot.
The City of Sanford received plans to build a brewery in a former train depot. (Handout)

A group of Orlando investors plan to open a brewery and artisan market in a train depot in downtown Sanford.

Wekiva Basin Brewing LLC has submitted plans to the city of Sanford to construct a 3,500-square-foot brewery and tap room at 212 W. 1st St. Plans also call for a 2,300-square-foot market that would feature artisan vendors offering homemade bread, sushi, cigars, essentials oils and other locally created items.

The 1.3-acre property was purchased Feb. 28 for $520,000 by 212 First St LLC, a company controlled by Wekiva Basin Brewery partner Sean Kelley.

The location is the site of the historic South Florida Railroad station. President Ulysses S. Grant attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Jan. 10, 1880. While that station no longer stands, Wekiva Basin Brewery will occupy a depot that dates to 1940.

Kelley said the history of the city and the growing craft beer scene in downtown Sanford is what attracted him and his partners, Joe Buttice and J.T. Clark, to the train depot property.

"I feel like Sanford is really becoming a brewing town," said Kelley. "There are other successful brewers here, and Sanford is centrally located so it can draw beer lovers from the beaches to south of Orlando."

Two breweries are currently opened, Wops Hops Brewing Co. and Sanford Brewing Co. A third, Inner Compass Brewing Co., is expected to open later this spring. A fourth brewery, Deviant Wolfe Brewing Co., has received approvals from Sanford and hopes to open by the end of the year. All five breweries would be located within a 5-by-5 block area of each other.

The depot building is approximately 4,950 square feet under roof. There is  another 1,155 square feet of the elevated pad that is uncovered. Kelly said the plan is to build out that section of the depot for the brewery. He said the company will also take advantage of the elevated loading dock for outdoor seating.

Jerry Mills of BHM Architecture Inc. is consulting on the project.

Kelley said Wekiva Basin Brewing is interviewing brewers and is beginning to recruit vendors for the market space. He said vendor booths will be customized and sized to meet each vendor's needs.

Kelley, who owns Orlando-based Saint Lawerence Title, said the project is being financed with private equity.