WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTMH) — The West Haven City Council has unanimously approved a 20-year lease for the New England Brewing Company to take over the long-shuttered Savin Rock Conference Center. 

The city council held a public hearing on the matter Tuesday night. Under the lease, the brewery has to make efforts to hire employees who live in the city. The company is also required to sponsor the city’s fireworks display.

Next, the zoning board has to approve the site. 

A majority of people who spoke during public comment were in support of the brewing company. 

“This is something that’s going to wake up the area down there,” Rich Standish said. “I guarantee it.”

The New England Brewing Company, also known as NEBCO, has been eyeing the conference center for years. The city owns the parcel at 6 Rock St. where the Savin Rock Conference Center currently stands.

People passing by the conference center on Tuesday said the building is an eye-sore and is falling apart. 

NEBCO originally planned to tear down the conference center. The company has since revised its plans. Marty Juliano, NEBCO’s director of business development, said the business plans to renovate the building and add an outdoor patio.

Supporters said the brewery would bring more people to the city.

“Our best resource is our shoreline, and we don’t want to waste the opportunity,” Cindy Yale Duane said. 

Although many were in favor at the public hearing Tuesday, the brewery previously got pushback from city council members, the West Haven Land Trust and Jimmies of Savin Rock next door, for reasons varying from parking issues to preserving the beach and boardwalk.  

Juliano said the brewery will be a good neighbor. 

NEBCO’s production side will stay in Woodbridge.