Bell’s sale moves forward

ESCANABA – The sale of land in the Delta County Renaissance Zone for the construction of Bell’s Upper Hand Brewery is one step closer to reality, thanks in part to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

During a recent Natural Resources Commission meeting in Iron Mountain, Michigan DNR Director Keith Creagh signed a release of reverter interest on a 40-acre land parcel in Delta County’s Renaissance Zone, of which five acres is in the process of being sold to Bell’s Brewery for the construction of the Upper Hand Brewery. Members of the Delta County Board of Commissioners were updated on the land purchase process at a board meeting held Tuesday.

Escanaba’s Upper Hand Brewery, a $1.6 million, 11,500-square-foot, state-of-the-art craft brewery, is expected to employ five people and produce a variety of beers and ales for distribution across the U.P. and adjacent northern states.

According to a press release from the DNR, the roughly 40-acre parcel of land was originally deeded to the city of Escanaba in 1941 through a public use deed that contained a reverter interest which stated the land could only be used for airport purposes. If that was no longer the case, the land would revert to the state of Michigan.

The city of Escanaba later conveyed the entire airport, including the parcel, to Delta County in 1973. The release of the reverter interest is required in order for the county to sell or lease the property for business development in and around the Delta County Airport.

“Right now we don’t have the ability to sell the land. We only have the ability to lease,” explained Delta County Administrator Nora Viau. She said she anticipates the county will receive the deed for the land in the next couple weeks.

“We are pleased to welcome Larry Bell and the Upper Hand Brewery to the Airport Renzone community,” added Viau, who attended the new brewery’s groundbreaking last week. “Special thanks to Airport Manager Kelly Smith, whose enthusiastic dedication to the project and renzone added another business to Delta County.”

Viau also thanked others fundamental to the project’s success, including the county’s renaissance zone committee, county board members, Delta County Economic Development Alliance Director Vicki Schwab, Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole, and Delta Conservation District Director Rory Mattson.