The owner of a Powell winery plans to fill a long-vacant space in downtown Delaware with a similar business after receiving a tax break from the city.
Delaware City Council on June 12 voted 6-0 to approve a 15-year, 100 percent property-tax abatement on improvements proposed for the first floor of 38 E. Winter St. New owner Kirby Ventures LLC plans to bring a winery to the structure adjacent to the Strand Theatre.
Sean Hughes, Delaware's economic development director, said the building has been vacant for about a dozen years, in large part because of its condition.
"It's in considerable need of help and love," he said.
Jeff Kirby, owner of Powell Village Winery, said his business in the southern Delaware County city has a production facility and a tasting room.
"We have purchased the building in downtown Delaware to do essentially the same concept on steroids," he said. "It's about four times the size of what we have in Powell."
Kirby said the Delaware business, which will be known as the Oak & Brazen Wine Co., will feature a tasting room and space for private events. He said he hopes to open the winery around Thanksgiving.
According to city records, Kirby Ventures is expected to spend about $110,000 on renovations to the building and buy $10,000 worth of equipment. The firm has committed to hiring the equivalent of six full-time employees with a payroll of $165,000 within three years of the abatement taking effect.
The firm will pay about $10,000 to the Delaware Area Career Center and the Delaware City School District over the abatement's term. The figure represents about 30 percent of the tax dollars the districts would have received if the city had not approved the abatement.
Kirby said downtown Delaware's growing reputation as a destination for foodies helped attract his attention.
"It's made a name for (itself) in the food-and-drink world. It really has," he said. "We hear about it at our Powell location all the time, so that's one of the reasons that I came up here looking."
Kirby said Oak & Brazen will serve cheese and flatbreads but will not be a full-service restaurant.
"(Delaware) already (has) great restaurants here and more coming along, I'm sure," he said. "We just want to be a piece where you come before dinner or after dinner to have a glass of wine and maybe an appetizer or dessert."
City Manager Tom Homan said he is excited to see the company fill a vacancy in a building neighboring the nonprofit Strand Theatre.
"It provides a nice anchor to that end of the block and just provides more vitality," he said.
Kirby said he has not finalized plans for the 4,500-square-foot second floor of the building. He said his focus is set on renovating the first floor, but he noted the strong demand for office space in the downtown area could lead him in that direction.