The iconic "Grain Belt Beer" sign at the foot of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge may soon glow once again after sitting dark for nearly 20 years.
Today Schell's Brewery announced it has a purchase agreement in place to buy the Grain Belt sign and hopes to work with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota to fix up and relight the classic Minneapolis landmark.
The sign has been left unlit since 1996 when Grain Belt's former owner went bankrupt. It was originally built in 1940 and has been lit up off and on throughout multiple changes in the brewery's ownership.
"We think it's a really important part of the downtown Minneapolis fabric and we want to make sure it stays that way by working with the community to restore it," said Michelle Wood, Schell's marketing director.
Schell's bought Grain Belt in 2002 and visited the Nicollet Island-East Bank Neighborhood Association last summer to gauge neighbors' opinions on relighting the sign. The neighborhood enthusiastically supported the measure as long as nothing is put on the back of the sign, which Wood says Schell's does not plan on doing.
Preservation Alliance Executive Director Doug Gasek said they will be helping Schell's secure funding to fix up the sign and pay for ongoing energy and maintenance issues.
At the neighborhood meeting last summer preliminary cost estimates were pegged at $250,000 to rehabilitate the sign and install new LED lighting and another $500 per month for maintenance and energy costs.