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Akron's Lock 15 Brewing Co. Aims to Open in June in Historical, Natural Setting


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A strong sense of history is fueling Lock 15 Brewing Co., which plans to open in Akron this summer. Lock 15 Brewing Co., in the shadow of the Y Bridge, is in the Cascade Valley Metro Park. It's a mix of old, new and nature: Trails wind through the area and its montage of historic buildings, rushing water and electrical towers. Soon, Colin Cook's vision and restaurant background, Tony Troppe's development acumen and Joe Karpinski's brewing know-how will converge to open one of Akron's newest breweries. Not that long ago, "The area was a complete utter disaster. Nothing was in the park area, no signs of life," Cook said.  He said revitalization of the area where Lock 15 Brewing is located  not far from the main drag of West Market Street  really began years ago.

The Cascade Locks Park Association was incorporated in 1989. Subsequent preservation efforts started to breathe life into the area. One of Akron's oldest buildings, the Mustill Store, was transformed into a museum. A walking bridge now connects the store to the Cascade Lofts building on North Street, where the brewery is located.  "These cascade locks saw 50 to 75 boats a day," Cook said. "You just had this traffic jam of people. They needed to find something to do.  The area became a stopping point. Irish immigrants built this canal. The canal is quite literally why Akron is a city."
A 1913 flood ravaged the area. Rivers overflowed. As much rainfall that usually comes down over several months hit in four days. That was the end of the canal being the region's center of life. "The whole idea for this location is simply because this can be an entryway into downtown Akron," Cook said. "Encourage people to come off the trail, have a bite to eat, encourage families to hike and bike together."  Creating a gateway to the city and its thriving beer culture isn't a bad idea. Established breweries  Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and Hoppin' Frog Brewery  continue to grow steadily. Smaller ones are popping up in the city, and recent ones are expanding. R. Shea Brewing in the Merriman Valley recently announced an expansion project. And nearby Cuyahoga Falls has become a brewery district.
Troppe owns the 100-year-old building Lock 15 is in. The building, which used to be Swinehart Tire and Rubber Co., was slated for demolition. Now it houses 24 loft apartments; all are rented, Cook said. Adjacent to the brewery is the Trailhead event space, available for weddings and gatherings. It was Troppe who "really helped facilitate this becoming a reality - he's an executioner."  "He's always got a mind on preservation of history," Cook said. "That's part of our mission."
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