Design for planned distillery OK'd

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BENNINGTON — Exterior design plans for a liquor distillery and spirits tasting room in the former town garage building off Depot Street were unanimously approved Tuesday by the Development Review Board.

SC Spirits LLC, owned by Glenn Sauer and Matt Cushman, plans to renovate and refurbish the 3,800-square-foot structure, which is set on a .3 acre parcel near a public parking lot.

The exterior design, prepared by Keefe & Wesner Architects, of North Bennington, includes all new insulated glass windows, new glazed overhead doors to replace existing solid doors; new curved standing metal seam roofing and replacement of a decaying stucco exterior wall finish with faux brick, including new finish colors for the walls.

Overall renovation plans, which are being reviewed for building permits, call for removal of a dropped ceiling; installation of modern lighting and large ceiling fans; implementation of a polished concrete floor with radiant heat, and the installation of a 500-gallon copper still and related equipment.

Geoff Metcalfe, of Keefe & Wesner, said the plan for faux brick outside walls could be changed to a restored stucco finish if the business receives a historic preservation grant it has applied for. That award would require an original exterior.

The business also will require a state permit to operate a distillery.

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Currently, the business is expected to be in operation in about eight months, with major work completed this year.

Proposal accepted

The distillery proposal was chosen after two rounds of requests for proposals to acquire and use the former garage, the last of which were due in January. SC Spirits emerged by February as the front-runner and won the support of the Select Board.

SC Spirits offered to purchase the vacant building from the town for $80,000 and put forth a $1 million investment in renovations and equipment.

Attorney Jason Morrissey, representing the business at a February meeting, said the company expects to turn a profit by 2020 and the goal is to reach full employment of about six employees by 2022.

The tasting room would target tourists who come to Vermont for winter sports, fall foliage, and other activities, according to a town of Bennington memorandum on the RFP offer. The primary sales channel for the distillery will be through traditional distillers, especially in Massachusetts and New York.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien     


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