It’s official--- Blue Point Brewery contracts have been signed
BY NICOLE ALLEGREZZA
Lips are no longer sealed.
Later today, Blue Point Brewery president Todd Ahsmann will announce that contracts have been signed for the lease of the Briarcliffe College building. The lease, which starts June 1, will allow the Blue Point Brewery, an Anheuser Busch craft beer subsidiary, to move from River Avenue to West Main Street in Patchogue, with hopes to open by early 2018.
The announcement will come at about 6:30 p.m. at the New York City Anheuser Busch offices in Chelsea. According to Ahsmann the yearlong tale is finally coming to reality. Back in January of last year, he said he began looking into expanding the current location at 161 River Avenue, which has been the site of the brewery since 1998, but soon recognized how limited space was.
“We started all the permitting and design … but it was just too small,” he said, noting that Patchogue was still the ideal location, though limited buildings were available.
That’s where Village of Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri came in, connecting the dots from the needed brewery expansion to the recently announced Briarcliffe College closing in December, all while crediting perfect timing
“I believe everything in life is timing; just two weeks before [Todd] came to me, Briarcliffe announced they were closing. If it had been six months before or after, it might not have ever happened,” explained Pontieri.
“I drove down to see the building and with just one look it was absolutely… I was interested,” said Ahsmann. Despite interest, the building was on lease until 2019.
“We had no intentions of kicking anyone out,” he explained.
But with some hard work and a bit of luck, the building completely freed up. Flo’s Luncheonette closed in December and Mr. D’s Ultimate Fitness plans to move just down the road to the West Lake Inn building by Memorial Day weekend. Then, the most recent forward move was approved. According to Dave Knapp, managing member of Swezey Real Estate Development, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education allowed Briarcliffe College to teach-out their current undergraduate students at a new location, the last piece of the puzzle.
Late last year, Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said that the town IDA was eager to help the brewery make the move by providing financial relief. He said mortgage taxes will be relieved with a pilot program that would allow the brewery’s taxes to be halved for the first two years and then increase by small percentages thereafter.
According to CEO of the Brookhaven IDA Lisa Mulligan, who approved the brewery’s benefit package back in October, a closing date will be set sometime this year. The benefit package includes approximately $2 million in property tax abatements over the course of 10 years and about $2 million in sales tax exemptions for the proposed $35 million project.
Come June, Ahsmann plans to break ground and rehab the interior of the building, while also constructing a small addition for a beer garden on the east side and a loading dock on the west side. Interior work will include renovations such as removing part of the second floor.
“A portion of upstairs will be a catwalk allowing for a self-guided tour, but there will also be proper tours checking in at the entryway,” he said.
The bar at the current location, Ahsmann noted, was ironically made from bricks of the old Patchogue Lace Mill, which once stood where the Briarcliff College building currently sits. He said the bar will be taken apart and brought back home.
“Craft beer and brewing is all about story telling and community … we’re excited to return to the roots of manufacturing at the old Lace Mill location, once the cornerstone of Patchogue,” said Ahsmann. “What better way to bring it back to life.”
Ready to hit the ground running, preparations have already been made. According to Ahsmann, engineers have finalized designs. The building will be outfitted with large windows, allowing a view inside the brewery and also overlooking Patchogue Lake. “We expect this to be quicker than most projects of this size,” he said. “We are overly prepared.”
Once all is said and done, the building will feature a cellar, barrel aging, packaging line, storage warehouse, offices, locker rooms, tasting rooms, a kitchen and brewery. Production will increase six-fold with the ability to double, and staff will increase by about 30 to start. Tasting rooms, Ahsmann hinted, will be on the first floor and second. The second-floor room will overlook the brewery and though details still need to be worked out, food will be served.
“The only thing I can guarantee right now is there will be oysters,” he said laughing and promising to stay true to the community by serving local products.
The building is expected to be open seven days a week offering tours and beer education classes. Ahsmann said he also plans to have space dedicated for meetings and charity events.
As for the leased location on River Avenue, Ahsmann said he hopes to see another brewery take over. All the equipment, he said, will either stay or be sold off, being that completely new equipment has already been purchased for the new site.
“I would love to see another brewery come in; craft beer is about community and I want to see this become a destination,” he added.
“This is going to be transformational and would not have happened without the support of the community, village and mayor. It is truly a visionary move,” said Knapp, excited to see the project move forward.
Pontieri agreed. “We will be one of about 15 Anheuser Busch breweries and when people talk about who we are as a community, this will be one of our assets that make us stronger. Patchogue is a place to invest,” he said.
Blue Point’s The Pride of Patchogue campaign has also been expanded and printed on every package and bottle sold. According to Ahsmann, the slogan will also be adorned on the new building.
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