January 7th, 2016
Here at The Milton Schoolhouse, we are wrapping up our seventh year as a brick-and-mortar business incubator in St. Louis riverbend region. Since 2009, we’ve been dedicated to turning this once condemned structure into a rich and welcoming foundation for renewal in our neighborhood. Last year, four of our hosted businesses were honored by receiving recognition in the AdVantage’s Best of the Best awards. After signing two new leases this month, we are happy to announce that all of our currently renovated studio spaces have been filled.
Templar Brewing Update
Since our update in August, Templar Brewing has made the decision to forgo their operation plans and liquidate their current investment. While the midwest brewing industry may be exploding in popularity, the realities behind this type of business include significant investments for fees, licenses, and equipment costs that leave fledgling businesses at the mercy of many unknowns. The time and resources associated with pursuing their operation exceeded even their most liberal estimates. We are proud of the gentlemen at Templar Brewing. They worked tirelessly to build what is an extremely complicated startup, taking on more risk and dreaming greater than most folks will ever dare. The tenacity of their spirit is not to be underestimated and it wouldn’t surprise us to see these brothers emerge as successful entrepreneurs in the future.
Locally, their work was heartily supported among our community. Templar was able to receive building permits and permission to acquire a local liquor license for our property. This precedent removes major obstacles to other food or beverage start ups at The Milton Schoolhouse. We are currently in early discussion with two businesses interested in this potential. If you would like to discuss what opportunities may be available at this location for a business that requires similar licensing, email Meredith at email@example.com to set up a time to meet.
Construction at The Milton Schoolhouse
If you have followed our progress long, you will know that since our purchase of the building in 2009 we have struggled against our failing roof. This autumn brought fantastic news. Through the combined efforts of the team at Lowe’s Contractor Services, the consultation of our friend Robin Terry (Haunted R Theatre), and Joel Elliott’s tireless research and meticulous architectural sketches, we’ve found a solution that will protect our businesses and cost far less than we had imagined. After years of searching, patching, and making do, we look forward to 2017 being the year in which we begin installing a new metal roof on the north wing of our structure.
Developments at Maeva’s Coffee
In the last four months, we’ve been gifted over $12,000 worth of restaurant equipment from an anonymous donor. Joel Elliott has begun to install these pieces into our 730 sq ft commercial kitchen. While these behind-the-scenes advancements aren’t always apparent to the public, our kitchen staff are enjoying the change. The best part? The new bread-proofer is up and running. That means we now make homemade baguettes for our cheese tarts and CINNAMON ROLLS!
We are still discussing on how this equipment could be used to expand our offerings at The Milton Schoolhouse. But, coupled with the licensing we were granted last summer, we’d love a foodie with an entrepreneurial spirit to work with us on this project. If you’ve ever wanted to run a little take out counter, set up a Japanese eight-seat style ramen bar, or start a little pizza pop up- talk to us!
We hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. We’re looking forward to another amazing year in Alton- thank you so much for your continued support!
August 23rd, 2016
The Milton Schoolhouse has now entered into its seventh year as a business incubator for small brick-and-mortar based businesses in the St. Louis riverbend region. The growth we’ve experienced in the last couple of years has been incredible. Since 2009, the building has been transformed from a condemned structure into a rich and welcoming cultural hotspot in our town. Last month we were recognized in the AdVantage Best of the Best, with Milton Schoolhouse-based businesses voted the area’s favorites in the following categories:
We are proud of the milestones achieved by Carrie Carpunky (Carrie Carpunky Photography) as she celebrates her fourth year of success in her commercial studio and Bobbi Brooks (Massage at Milton) for celebrating her third year of entrepreneurship at the schoolhouse.
This spring, a concrete front sidewalk and side patio were poured to provide outdoor seating for visitors. The new seating has been enjoyed by many customers this summer, especially under the new lighting in the evenings.
This side patio was to be a precursor to a larger patio in the center front of the structure that would accommodate expanded seating for both Maeva’s Coffee and the planned tap room of Templar Brewing Company. However, we were forced to put further patio construction on hold as our small outdoor improvements sparked a property tax assessment of the structure that increased our annual payment by a proposed 165%. After working with local authorities, the outcome was that our property taxes will now only double from 2016.
We are committed to providing lower-cost business space for new businesses, and any further tax increases would mean raising our current rental rates to accommodate the tax burden without accruing debt, since our current rates are calculated with a very thin margin. As a result, the large outdoor patio has been put on hold until Templar Brewing’s tap room has been completed or further studio space has been refinished to accommodate a greater number of commercial tenants. Unused funds collected from our 2015 crowdfunding campaign have been put into savings to use towards a larger patio when the building is able to support the changes it would bring.
Maeva’s Coffee + Kitchen Progress
In July, The Milton Schoolhouse went under a five day shut down for a large remodel in both Maeva’s Coffee and the commercial kitchen below. This was the first step to create a expanded food service and a walk-up tasting tap in partnership with Templar Brewing. Incredible progress has been made toward bringing this former classroom up to the health and safety standards necessary to support an anticipated large-scale food service expansion. Through hundreds of hours of labor from volunteers and our staff at Maeva’s Coffee, we were able to complete these projects during our shutdown:
800 sq ft of commercial restaurant quarry tile flooring installed
full coverage of FRP on the walls + ceiling of the kitchen
installation of new electrical + gas lines to support anticipated future needs
better lighting installed for greater safety
Before the end of 2016, we will be able to install a commercial hood and fire suppression system, a second gas convection oven, a bread proofer, and a walk-in refrigeration unit that will allow us the storage space to begin milk and food delivery- saving many hours of labor a week in milk and grocery runs.
The public space of Maeva’s Coffee also received attention during this time. Closing to the public allowed us to:
replace the polyurethane finish on our counter tops with commercial spray epoxy
repurpose and refinish a 14’ section of bowling alley for expanded shop seating
replace and refinish new chairs for the shop
install a self-serve water counter for faster service
give the shop a deep cleaning that is difficult to do because of the long shop hours
Continuing 2016 Improvements
Architectural plans have been created and approved for the expansion of the kitchen into the lower hallway of the schoolhouse and the addition of a walk-up food counter and seating. Construction on the lower hallway of the north wing will begin this year as the schedule of Templar Brewing allows. This addition will change the dynamics of The Milton Schoolhouse. It will require 4,000 sq ft of hallway to be finished, and brought up to fire code. This area will be used for for seating and walk area leading to a secondary restroom. The eight stall girl’s restroom, original to the 1904 section of the structure, is well on its way to becoming two separate restrooms with three stalls, and two sinks in each.
On the residential level of the schoolhouse, two of four classrooms have been completely stripped and prepared for construction. This month, we will undertake our first installation of 1,000 sq ft of metal roofing to replace the rapidly failing EDPM roof. Should installation be successful, we look to replace the roof of the entire north wing in the coming months, when weather permits. We have also begun soliciting quotes from local glass companies for replacement windows on the upper level. The frames on the third level have rusted through in places, creating potential fall hazards. We’ve patched them together for now but each classroom renovated on the top floor will need modern windows meeting current fire safety codes before we apply for residential permits.
Currently, we are build-testing a design for a studio-style residential space in one of the third-floor classrooms on the north wing.
For photos of our progress and updates on current events at The Milton Schoolhouse, check out our facebook!