i can only comment as some one who is still in planning, but i would steer clear of retail locations. overhead is one of many things that will crush a small brewery. you'll be paying that high rent for months while getting set up and licensed and that can really hurt you.
IMO, you won't get enough walk ins to justify paying for the location. you obviously don't want to be in a wasteland... but ive seen some pretty booming small breweries in pretty lame areas.
one thing you can look for is "back of the house" locations in that downtown area... lots of businesses with extra space nowadays.
just my .02.