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If Brian Podwinski's original plans had worked out, he would be getting ready to open his new brewery and tap room on the site of Robber's Cave this week.

Instead, he's just starting construction.

Podwinski, owner of Blue Blood Brewing Co., finally closed on the sale of the cave and surrounding land near 10th and High streets on Friday, and construction started Monday.

He said the project, which he announced in February and had projected would be done by the end of August, got off track mainly because of some utility issues. One of the biggest of those was the discovery that there was no water main running through the property.

With those issues now solved and a water main installed, the project is going forward. Workers started clearing trees Monday, and Podwinski said foundation crews will start digging a basement next week.

He said he is hoping to finish construction before the end of the year but still is working through his timeline and expects to have a better projection of an opening date in about a month.

"It worked out fine; it just took longer than we hoped," he said.

Podwinski is planning a 9,000-square-foot building on the site. His brewery operation would take up 6,000 square feet. The other 3,000 square feet would house a 100-seat taproom and restaurant with a full kitchen.

About half an acre of the 1.5-acre site can't be built on or used for parking because it sits on top of the cave, so Podwinski said he is looking at developing an outdoor seating area and beer garden.

As for the cave, which dates back to the mid-1800s and has been sealed up since 2000, Podwinski is planning to use it to store barrel-aged beer he produces and also plans to open it for tours and special events.

The project is projected to cost about $1.5 million and will qualify for about $100,000 in tax-increment financing, which uses the increased property taxes generated by the development to finance bonds to pay for improvements that will benefit the public. Podwinski said he paid $125,000 for the land.

The project is having a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, and Podwinski said he will be allowing some people inside the cave to have a look around.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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