KODIAK, Alaska — Changes are brewing in Kodiak's downtown.
As soon as next month, longtime landmark store Cy's Sporting Goods could be replaced by the booming Kodiak Island Brewing Company.
"There's been steady, steady growth over the years in demand both on the retail side and on the wholesale side," said Ben Millstein, owner of the brewing company now on Shelikof Street. "There's parking issues, too, and kind of access issues and efficiency issues within the space. It just seemed like staying there might not be an option."
As Millstein began looking for a new location in downtown Kodiak, he happened to walk into the Cy's Sporting Goods store and began talking with owner Cy Hoen, who has operated a store in Kodiak for more than 40 years.
Sharon Moore, Hoen's longtime partner, said the pair had been looking for an exit strategy.
"We're just getting older," she said. "It's just time to start slowing down."
Hoen declined to be interviewed, but said, "Nothing is set in stone."
Millstein's purchase of the store on Lower Mill Bay Road depends on a loan from the federal Small Business Administration, and that hasn't been finalized.
Still, plans are advanced to the point that Millstein found himself in front of the Kodiak Island Borough planning and zoning commission Wednesday night, asking the borough to allow the move.
Included in Millstein's proposal was a draft of his plans to turn the sporting goods store into the new home of Kodiak Island's sole microbrewery.
"It's more than triple the square footage we have right now," he said in an interview with the Daily Mirror.
The front half of the building — the part closest to Mill Bay Road — would include a 2,500 square-foot tasting room and greatly expanded retail space. The rear half would include 1,000 square feet of production space, more storage space and offices. It would be more space than the brewery currently needs, but Millstein said he's been looking for a building that allows his company room to grow.
"Now I'm more willing to have a little bit of inefficiency just so we have a little more flexibility in the future," he said.
Kodiak Island Brewing opened in May 2003 and has already undergone one expansion at its current home in the Harbor Building on Shelikof Street. A pair of shipping containers outside now hold overflow storage, while the brewery's tasting room is packed to standing room only each Friday night.
The brewery currently produces about 900 barrels of beer per year, about one-tenth of Kodiak Island's estimated annual beer consumption. As the planning commission voted unanimously to approve Millstein's application, it set a site production limit of 3,000 barrels per year. Millstein said the brewery isn't likely to approach that anytime soon.
"Our main focus is still just to satisfy local demand and do what we do so we're not running out of Liquid Sunshine every couple of weeks," he said.
New equipment would allow the brewery to expand its offerings, but that would come only after significant work. Millstein's plan calls for a new concrete slab at the rear of the building to accommodate a floor drain and a raised roof to allow tank space.
"If everything goes smoothly, we should be able to close in January, and I'm sure the remodel of the building will take at least a couple of months," he said. "I hope we can get everything ready in the new building and not have to close for more than a couple of weeks if everything goes well, but it's hard to predict that."
If everything goes as Millstein predicts, it will mean a shift for Cy's Sporting Goods, which is expected to downsize and move to a new location in Bell's Flats, Moore said.
"It'll be more of a homeowned business," she said, with a smaller selection and more Internet sales.
"We were throwing around ideas (about downsizing) when an opportunity came," she said. "(Ben) doesn't know how much I appreciate it."