Status of Southington distillery project unclear after initial work on historic building

Status of Southington distillery project unclear after initial work on historic building


SOUTHINGTON — A project to renovate the H.D. Smith building on West Street into a distillery made initial progress after work began two years ago but a completion date isn’t known.

Jon Rondeau bought 24 West St. for $350,000 from the Florian family in 2015. He intended to open a high-end whiskey and bourbon distillery.

Town Building Department records show permits in August 2015 for interior demolition to prepare for remodeling. In October of the same year, Rondeau got a permit for a new roof. In late 2015, the building department issued a permit for a host of plumbing projects, including new drain pipes, piping to the building’s bathrooms, relocating the water meter and extending drainage to the back of the building.

In 2016, workers repointed the former factory’s brick walls and installed new windows.

Building Official John Smigel said he hadn’t heard anything from Rondeau recently about the status of renovations. Calls to Rondeau weren’t returned Monday.

The building is near exit 30 off Interstate 84. It was originally used to manufacture hardware. The Smith Co. was renowned for its “Perfect Handle” tools. The building is listed on the state and national registers of historic places. Portions of the building are more than 100 years old.

Town officials passed a tax abatement program to encourage re-use of historic buildings like 24 West St. They’re also looking to attract breweries and distilleries, according to Economic Development Coordinator Lou Perillo.

The tax break applies to breweries and distilleries looking to locate in industrial zone buildings that have been vacant or more than half vacant for 10 years or more. The program offers a 100 percent abatement for the first three years, 75 percent the next and 50 percent in the final year.

Two breweries have opened in town recently and more are planned. Kinsmen Brewing Co. and Witchdoctor Brewing Co. both chose former factory buildings that haven’t been vacant long enough to qualify for the tax break. 203-317-2230 Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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