Herman Melville's classic whaling novel will soon have another meaning to historic downtown New Bedford after Moby Dick Brewing Co. becomes the region's first brewpub on the corner of Union and Water Streets.

A team of local investors have bought into the $1.3 million project that will produce a 10-barrel brewery inside a family-friendly restaurant at 52 Union Street, just steps away from State Pier and the city's working waterfront.

The plans have been in the works since February, according to secretary and marketing director Bob Unger, also principal of Unger LeBlanc Inc. Strategic Communications and former editor and associate publisher of  The Standard-Times and Southcoast Media Group.

"We wanted to do it in downtown New Bedford," Unger said. "We looked at 15-20 different properties, this one seemed to be the best because of its structure and proximity to all these other great institutions downtown."

Unger is working alongside president Dave Slutz, Managing Director of Potentia Business Solutions and former CEO of Precix Inc. of New Bedford.

Other investors include Maureen Sylvia Armstrong, President and CEO of teh Sylvia Group in Dartmouth; Peter Kavanaugh, owner/CEO of Brownell Boat Stands of Mattapoisett and President of La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery of Dartmouth; and Richard Lafrance, President and CEO of Lafrance Hospitality.

"Restaurants, especially divided six ways, are not places to go to make yourself rich but they are places to go to do some good and to have some fun and do something that hasn't been done before," said Unger.

Unger worked at Schaefer Brewing in New York (his father did the same before working for Anheuser-Busch) and is looking forward to developing several different beers to sell on premise, though he does hope bottling becomes an option down the line.

Moby Dick is expecting to brew around 750 barrels of beer its first year in operation and offer somewhere between five and seven different brews, all named after themes from the novel.

The nearly 100-seat restaurant will offer patrons indoor and outdoor dining and traditional pub fare made with fresh locally sourced ingredients. An area for merchandise sales and possibly growler fill-ups is being planed as well.

Ahead lies multiple permitting processes with both city and federal government. Unger expects construction to begin in early fall and hopes to be ready to open the doors by March 1, 2017, just in time for the annual New Bedford Half Marathon.

"We felt that if we can be successful here...we could do some very good things for New Bedford," said Unger.

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