West Lafayette, IN) - There could be a slight change from the original plans of a combination restaurant-brewery or distillery inside of a nearly 90-year-old barn to be reassembled at Purdue University.
The barn, at a farm in Sheridan roughly 40 miles north of Indianapolis, was taken apart with the materials placed in storage after the original plans were announced in March.
The plan is still to reassemble the barn at some point at Squirrel Park in the Discovery Park District on the West Lafayette campus.
However, the barn can be strictly only for restaurant use, said Paul Bercot, Project Manager at the Discovery Park District. Bercot said the original company that was going to operate a theoretical multi-purpose facility in the barn was not able to obtain financing because of factors like higher interest rates.
“That’s kind of in the direction it was going at that time,” he said.
Bercot said talks are now occurring with another restaurant-operating company that might have a slight change of vision for the over-10,000 square feet of space.
“We talk to different companies that operate and run those types of things and it’s kind of their job to figure out what would be the best of that space,” he said.
The barn will start being reassembled once a deal is struck, which he strongly believes could happen in the very near future.
“We’re in deep talks with a new operator now. I would be very surprised here if in the next six months we haven’t started construction on it,” he said.
Per Bercot, a vast majority of the barn's pieces, dating back to 1938, are in great shape. Each piece was inspected for insect damage and properly treated before placed into storage.
Every effort will be made during reassembly for the barn to look exactly as it once did, but there could be some changes or modernization depending on the needs of the operator and current building code requirements.
“The goal is that when you walk inside of it, it has at least the look and feel of the barn structure,” he said.
Originally, the barn housed horses before being converted into a swine feed lot. Most recently, Bercot said, it was used strictly for storing a variety of farm-related materials.
The Purdue Research Foundation has led the way in creating the Discovery Park District, a $1 billion development that includes about 150 residences and high-end office space, along with state of the art research facilities and laboratories atop 400 acres on the southwest side of the campus.
The still-evolving district opened in 2020.
Bercot said the vision is for it to become a "live-work-play community" primarily for faculty, and to attract future talent to the campus via offering the convenience of easy access to work and amenities like restaurants.
Right now, there are just a select number of food providers involved, such as a donut shop and coffee house in the district. Bercot said the barn is a perfect fit because of Purdue University’s longstanding reputation in agriculture, and major role the school plays in the industry.
He said a barn-restaurant also has the potential to become a destination for people in the surrounding area.
“It’s definitely going to fit what we feel is going to be a niche in the market that currently isn’t represented,” he said.
Sonny Beck, CEO of Beck’s Superior Hybrids and member of the Purdue University Board of Trustees, donated the barn at his farm for future use in the district.
Under his direction, the company has grown to become the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S.
Beck is also a Purdue alumnus, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy in 1962, and later a Master of Arts degree in agricultural economics.
The Purdue Research Foundation is paying the cost of taking down the barn and putting it back up. Whoever operates it will be responsible for the expense of making the structure functional.
The district is also home to businesses that can benefit from the research, along with current and future talent at the university.
PRF President Brian Edelman said the park will continue to grow and evolve from adding more corporate partners and the jobs they bring to the area.
“Our job is to make sure the corporations that decide to locate in the Discovery Park District receive the keys to Purdue University, ensuring that all of the research and recruiting interests of the companies are met and met at the speed of business,” he said.