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Fairfax City sees new brewery as potential ‘regional destination’

Commonwealth Brewing Co. has revived a long-vacant space at 10426 Main Street in Fairfax City (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The City of Fairfax has high hopes for Commonwealth Brewing Co.

The Virginia Beach-based company opened its second brewery and restaurant at 10426 Main Street with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 28, bringing new life to a space that has been vacant since at least 2015.

While customers were no doubt looking forward to trying the establishment’s specialty brews and wood-fired pizzas, the city’s economic development team saw the long-awaited launch as a sign that its ongoing efforts to revitalize Old Town are paying off.

“With Commonwealth opening up and its acclaim and reputation from how well they’ve done in Virginia Beach, it’s going to become really a regional destination for people to come and visit and really spend time in our downtown,” said Nicole Toulouse, senior assistant director for Fairfax City Economic Development (FCED).

Established in a former Virginia Beach fire station in 2015, Commonwealth Brewing began as an outgrowth of founder and owner Jeramy Biggie’s longtime hobby of home-brewing beer. He and his wife Natalie spent a decade “passively researching” before using their retirement savings to start their own business, he previously told FFXnow.

The risk has evidently paid off. Commonwealth rode a wave of growing local interest in craft brews to become a neighborhood favorite known for its artistic beer cans and communal, beer hall-style environment.

The FCED hopes the brewery can replicate that success in historic downtown Fairfax. A block away from Old Town Hall, the roughly 8,000-square-foot space had attracted interest from different potential tenants, but it wasn’t until Commonwealth that “we finally found the right fit,” Toulouse says.

The brewery will be joined in its efforts to create a new community gathering spot by Earp’s Ordinary, which is expected to open a permanent music venue and pub in the same building later this year.

“We really think that Commonwealth will be a gathering place for the entire region,” she told FFXnow. “It has a large, open-concept plan with indoor and outdoor seating, with communal tables available, and so, it’ll be a place that people can meet their neighbors and also host events. So, we’re really excited for it to kind of be a keystone retailer in the heart of Old Town.”

Toulouse says attracting and supporting small, boutique businesses like Commonwealth or the recently opened Lucy Loves vintage shop in Old Town has been a priority for the FCED, even as the city encourages more mixed-use activity with a small area plan adopted in 2020.

Seeking to “reimagine” the city’s downtown as a walkable cultural destination, the plan calls for a major shift toward multifamily residential uses around a commercial core focused on “local, regional food services along with cultural use and specialty retail.”

So far, the plan has opened the door for a performing arts center, along with condominiums and more retail and office space. Though some residents fear Old Town will lose its historic charm, Toulouse believes the city’s vision strikes an effective balance between preserving its past and paving the way for a more vibrant future.

“It will still maintain that quaint and cute feel throughout the evolution of Old Town’s development,” Toulouse said. “That being said, it is the main attraction to the city, to kind of visit all of these old historic buildings, and so, we’re excited to have activated storefronts like Commonwealth that are able to bring people into the city and stay here.”

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