Correction: The previous version of this article stated the name of the new business would be Personal Brew Club. It is actually named Personal Best Brewing, as of right now.
A monument to the fitness craze of the 1980s and 1990s is going to be renovated into a monument of the current nationwide brewery trend.
The City Health Club building at 402 West Green Street in downtown Ithaca is slated to be redeveloped into a brewpub, named Personal Best Brewing, with construction finishing sometime in the next year or two if all approvals are acquired. The development of the bar is being led by Michael and Anthony Cesari, and operated by Anthony. Several redevelopment plans for the building were discussed before finally settling upon a bar. Michael Cesari, who’s originally from Elmira, has been working on this for some time and sees a great deal of long-term potential for the site.
“The original plan was that I was going to build it into a rock-climbing gym in the old building of what is now the closed health club,” Cesari said. “But I got wrapped up in some other projects, a lot of climbing gyms in New York City, which is where I live. The plan is that [Anthony, who lives in Ithaca] and I are going to be opening a brewery in 2020 at some point. The first phase may open in 2019 but the main parts, two years down the road.”
A brewpub on the site is not the end of the Cesaris’ plans, he said. Though the other proposals are in much earlier stages than the brewery, they also have dreams of opening an urban winery, a coffeehouse and a boutique hotel of some sort, though he emphasized that they “aren’t even on step one with that one.”
This wouldn’t all be crammed into the space of the brewpub, according to Cesari. There are three other parcels of land on the street that is owned by the Cesari’s, all of which are vacant. All together they have 38,000 square feet or so. However, the hotel part would require additional land acquisition. It’s part of a longer, 10 year plan the family has for their ample space downtown.
While the brewery project is slated to open in 2019, there have been some delays that could cause it to linger on. The major issue of the redevelopment is rebuilding the roof of the building. According to Cesari, the timing of the project worked out to the end of fall, a time of the year when contractors are finishing their ongoing projects before winter brings in colder temperatures.
“It’s a big enough job but the timing’s just bad,” said Cesari. “In late summer, all the contractors are trying to wrap up jobs before the weather gets cold. We were hoping to get the roof replaced before the winter but we missed the window and so now we’re going to have to wait for the freeze-thaw cycle ends at this point. That’s the main one. The roof totally needs to be ripped off the building and replaced and we can’t really do anything inside until that happens.”
Despite the challenges Cesari is facing, he is confident about the project’s success as well as its ability to thrive in the community. It would be downtown’s second brewery-restaurant project, after the popular Liquid State Brewing Company opened further down West State Street last year.