Manchester pub alters expansion plans after brewery objects

MANCHESTER, Iowa — Riverbend Pub’s plans to modify its existing deck were modified after a neighboring business raised concerns about how the covered outdoor seating area would obstruct its view of Manchester’s waterfront.

At their previous meeting, City Council members considered a project proposal from Riverbend that would have allowed it to enclose its current deck, essentially creating a four-seasons room, while also extending the deck further to the west to expand its popular outdoor seating options.

While the council had some concerns given the project is being constructed on land leased from the city, it also wanted to hear from other businesses in the area.

Kyle Sands, a proprietor at Franklin Street Brewing Co., said he had a handful of concerns.

Sands said when Franklin Street officials originally were searching for a location, they considered the building that Riverbend Pub is currently in but decided against it because they were told expansion wasn’t an option.

And while Sands said they weren’t supportive of the current deck being built in the first place, they definitely didn’t want the structure being expanded upward by way of enclosed seating.

“My biggest concern for our customers is the loss of the view,” Sands said.

Council Member Dean Sherman said Franklin Street’s objection held some weight for him.

“I’m personally not sure I could support the addition of covering the deck if the neighboring properties aren’t in agreement because we really can’t be put in a position where we pick winners and losers,” he said.

Council Member Tania Bradley agreed, stating that given how much the city has promoted the riverfront, it seems antithetical to allow one business to block the view from one of the downtown area’s biggest draws.

JW Scott, proprietor at Riverbend Pub, said the business valued extending the deck more than covering it, so they would gladly ditch plans for the latter if the council would approve the former.

Scott said that if the deck was just expanded westward, it wouldn’t further obstruct Franklin Street’s view and, if approved by the council, he would order materials immediately with the goal of having the project finished by the end of March.

Throughout the process, Scott has also told the council how much they value the partnership they have with Franklin Street.

Sands said he didn’t want to give the impression they were trying to hinder progress at Riverbend, but he just didn’t want anything done at the expense of their business.

After more discussion with City Attorney Jim Peters, the council ultimately approved the westward expansion of the deck and not the covering, but the project still needs to be granted building permits before it can move forward.