Vodka distillery wins approval of tax breaks
The Ulster County Industrial Development Agency Board has authorized $944,605 in tax breaks for developers to build a Star Vodka distillery and event venue on the former Christian Brothers property in West Park.
At a board meeting Wednesday, developer Paul Seres said plans for a 25room hotel on the 27.25acre property off U.S. Route 9W are being postponed until the manufacturing and bottling facility is completed. The site is on the eastern side of Route 9W between Burroughs and Salvatore drives.
“We’re thinking we’re going to be open for about a year before we’re able to start looking at the hotel,” he said. “After getting all our financial ducks in a row ... it’s really a much better position for us if we’re doing what we’re calling a phased approach.
“The phased approach is going to be getting the distillery and event portion of the business up and running first, putting some numbers on a ledger for our bank so that we can show them that we are going to be able to generate cash flow, and then doing an internal financing to finish off the hotel as phase two,” he said.
In their application for tax breaks, developers said the $5.6 million project is expected to create 27 new jobs the first year and another seven the second year.
The tax breaks would include $363,000 in sales tax exemptions, $34,967 in mortgage recording tax exemptions, and $546,638 in property taxes under a 20year payment-in-lieu-oftaxes agreement.
The property includes a two-story house built in the 1800s that was used as a religious retreat for the Christian Brothers. There is also a small brick house that was built in the 1930s.
Seres said the existing buildings will be renovated to maintain their historic features and he does not expect to have new structures on the property. He said there may be 10 to 12 rooms for lodging on the site before he moves forward with converting one of the buildings into a hotel.
“(It would be) just so people who are buying the bride and groom a wedding .. .the whole wedding party could stay at their event,” he said.
Star Vodka founder Charles Ferri earlier this year described his current six-year-old operation in Bend, Oregon, as a small producer of “luxury” vodka under a business model that finds customers by attracting them to a quality product instead of promoting the product through celebrity endorsements.
Ferri said the facility can be part of the wine trail tourism effort that encourages people to visit production site.
“The change is ... experiencing and understanding what people are doing, how they’re making things,” he said. “When you see these trends, we’re tapping into something that we think is only going to continue to grow.”