Edwinton Brewing Company is slated to open in May. The new microbrewery will occupy the west end of the newly renovated former Bismarck train depot, which will not feature lattice-patterned windows.
In September, the Renaissance Zone Authority, acting as the Downtown Design Review Committee, denied a request by Dale Zimmerman, who owns the depot, to amend the approved design to eliminate the historically characteristic lattice pattern from the depot’s windows.
On Tuesday night, Zimmerman appealed the Downtown Design Review Committee's decision and, by a vote of 3-2, the Bismarck City Commission approved his appeal, which sent the lattice-pattern design out the window. The depot will instead feature metal-framed windows, with clear glass.
“We’re at the point of opening, which means I need a certificate of occupancy. I cannot open without a certificate of occupancy, which means, if you do not overturn this decision by the Downtown Design Review, I don’t get my certificate,” Zimmerman said, prior to the commission’s vote.
“That building has been vacant for two years. If you drive by it now, it has that horribly ugly fence around it. It looks vacant. Dead. And that’s what’s going to continue. And that is a crying shame over lattice on the windows," he said.
The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977, and, because of this distinction, city ordinance lists the following guidelines for renovations: “The removal of historic materials, or alterations of features and spaces that characterize the building, shall be avoided. The introduction of any new design element should be consistent with the traditional features with the building … replacement of windows should generally conform with the style of the original windows used in the building.”
Every window in the depot is unique in size and arched, and making sure each window features the lattice pattern is cost prohibitive, according to Zimmerman, who said a great deal of money has been spent on repairs to save the building, ensuring it’s a safe structure.
“The building was actually opening up and was falling in on itself through its own weight,” he said. “The cost that we’ve incurred to make sure the building is saved for future generations was great. And we did this without public assistance.”
Commissioner Josh Askvig, who cast one of the dissenting votes, said the city has been collecting estimates to have the lattice pattern added to the windows, quoting a low-ball estimate of about $10,000.
Askvig and Commissioner Nancy Guy, who cast the other dissenting vote, questioned why Zimmerman waited six months to appeal the decision, to which he responded he was not aware of the appeal process.
“If we started this process earlier, there would be time to work through compromise,” Guy said.
The depot also will house a restaurant and event center.
“Here is an opportunity to move a project forward that has been discussed over the last five years .... The window lattice can always be added,” Mayor Mike Seminary said.