Promising projects ahead for Washington

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

A brew pub and a micro-distillery in downtown Washington, and at the same intersection? It could happen.

New Vision Partners, with some help from the city by way of $500,000 in grant funding, continues its effort to convert the former Fowle & Sons General Merchandise into Castle Island Brewery. That effort got a boost earlier this month when the City Council voted to lend up to $500,000 in grant funding to New Vision Partners.

The grant will provide assistance to complete renovation of the Fowle Building. The three-story building, constructed in 1900, contains 11,800 square feet. The building has been vacant for several decades. New Vision Partners, according to a city document, will invest $400,000 in equipment and an additional $800,000 in an up-fit of proposed apartments on the second and third floors of the building.

In December, the council modified the city’s zoning regulations to make it easier for The Hackney Distillery to covert the former Bank of America building into a micro-distillery. The city plans to use the up to $200,000 in state grant funding to assist The Hackney Distillery (Nick and Suzanne Sanders) in rehabilitating the former bank building, into a distillery, destination restaurant and boutique hotel.

Nick Sanders, who recently moved from London to Washington with his wife, Suzanne, told the council that growth of the distillery and micro-distillery industry is a “global trend.” Sanders said he is ready to commit $775,000 in addition to grant funding to rehabilitate the former bank building. He also said The Hackney Distillery LLC would provide any matching funds the grant agreement would require.

North Carolina has seen an increase in brew pubs and micro-distilleries in recent years. That growth prompted the North Carolina General Assembly to change laws related to their operations. Glenn Moore, a city planner, told the Planning Board late last year the number of micro-distilleries in the state increased from13 in 2013 to 40 in 2017.

The brew pub and micro-distillery would bring visitors — and their money — to Washington, thereby helping the local economy. The city, county and state would benefit from increased sales-tax revenue generated by that increase in spending. Also, new jobs would be created.

Hopefully, the two proposed projects will transform from blueprints to bricks and mortar.