AUSTIN (ABJ) — Dave Childress hopes his forthcoming Southeast Austin brewery can be a neighborhood hangout in the middle of what he describes as a “craft brewery desert.”

The 16,500-square-foot brewery, called Fast Friends Beer Co., will be located just east of I-35 in South Austin, between William Cannon Drive and Slaughter Lane. Construction recently began at the site. Childress, a West Point graduate and combat veteran who earned an MBA at the University of Texas at Austin, is the founder of Fast Friends. He previously spearheaded Common Space Brewery in Hawthorne, Calif., and TEN20 Craft Brewery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fast Friends expects to raise a total of $2.5 million in equity funding to finance construction, along with an SBA loan from Karnes County National Bank, headquartered southeast of San Antonio. The property is located within an opportunity zone — a federally designated area that offers tax breaks on capital gains for investments in low-income census tracts. What’s more, profits from opportunity zone investments are not taxed if the investment is held for at least 10 years.

Fast Friends would be the only brewery that’s both east of I-35 and south of St. Elmo Road — data collected shows about 19,000 people live within one mile of the proposed location.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for restaurants, bars and breweries. Last summer, the Texas Craft Brewers Guild released a poll revealing 2 in 3 breweries didn’t believe they’d survive to see 2021.

Read more at Austin Business Journal.