The Senate this week approved legislation sponsored by Senator Melissa Murray to help pave the way for a new brewery in downtown Woonsocket.
The building, which is currently being rehabilitated with business space on the ground floor and apartments on the three floors above, is within the Downtown Overlay District established by the city in 2015.
Brewer Sean Lopolito of Plainville has been working to open a 40-seat taproom on the first floor plus seasonal patio seating, and conduct brewing in the basement. Lopolito plans to offer trivia and live music, and the building’s owner has said he views the business as perfect for his plans to make the building and its apartments attractive to young professionals,
according to a press release Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist for the Rhode Island General Assembly.
Senator Murray was a member of the City Council when the Downtown Overlay District was created and made downtown revitalization a top priority. She said she was happy to sponsor the legislation – which is the first bill she introduced as a new legislator – to help bring the business downtown.
“A small brewery is a perfect fit for the effort to revitalize downtown Woonsocket. We now have a number of high-quality restaurants and bars, plus the Stadium Theatre, which has become a regional attraction with national acts and popular large productions. We also have another brewery in the city, and a growing number of others around the Blackstone Valley that are helping to make the area a destination for those who enjoy microbrews. This is an exciting opportunity for downtown Woonsocket, one that could help in the effort to bring in visitors and help develop the neighborhood and its atmosphere,” said Senator Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) in a prepared statement.
The legislation allows a commonly granted exemption to location limits, enabling the City Council to approve the brewery’s license if the brewery meets all other requirements.
The bill now advances to the House, which passed companion legislation (2019-H 5053) filed by Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) on Feb. 26.
Lops Brewing is among a handful of breweries that have or have plans to open in Rhode Island this year, the craft beer industry has grown from a handful in the 1990’s to around 30 breweries statewide today.