Vodka dis­tillery wins ap­proval of tax breaks

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

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.”

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