Fair   N/AF  |  Forecast »

Restoring Power

American Icon Brewery draws on its heritage as Vero Beach’s diesel power plant

These 465-gallon serving tanks inside the walk-in cooler are named for American icons such as Miles Davis and Albert Einstein.

These 465-gallon serving tanks inside the walk-in cooler are named for American icons such as Miles Davis and Albert Einstein.

For 99 years, a two-acre plot of land on 19th Place just west of the railroad tracks has played an important role in the history of downtown Vero Beach. First, and for many years to follow, it was home to the diesel power plant that helped fuel the growth of “Vigorous Vero,” as the local papers used to call it. Then, in 1961, with the construction of a much larger steam power plant on the Indian River Lagoon, the plant became obsolete and was eventually shut down.

It sat dormant until two years ago, when the building surged gloriously back to life. Under the direction of Michael Rechter and his company, Integra Corporations, heavy equipment and teams of workers descended, transforming the historic plant into the American Icon Brewery. It now stands as a cornerstone of the surrounding area’s revitalization.

“American Icon has gotten more attention than all the other projects I’ve done in Vero Beach put together,” Rechter says. “I just love this building — not just me, everybody. That’s why it’s gotten the attention.” Rechter had his eye on the site for 15 years while buying and renovating other pieces of real estate in Vero Beach. “This building was in litigation for years and years and years, and I had not thought that it was going to become available. But when it did, I jumped at the chance.”

Rechter’s passion for the building is apparent. “I have images in my files. I’ve read so much on it. I have so much information on this building it’s scary.” He pulls out his phone to scroll through scores of archival photographs. “Wait, let me find you one from 1994. You’re not going to believe this,” he says with an enthusiasm that goes beyond this being just another investment. Why is that? Let’s take a brief look at the building’s history.