NEBCO and hotel target Savin Rock in West Haven with $ 20-35 million plans

WEST HAVEN – The brewery won the first round, but the luxury hotel is no slouch.

The targeted site is the vacant and dilapidated Savin Rock Conference Center and the city is in the process of learning more about the development proposals. The proposed brewery would invest $ 20 to $ 25 million; the hotel would involve an investment of $ 30 million to $ 35 million, independent plans representatives told city officials.

The question of what will be approved for the main shoreline site is once again open as, after talks with a developer for the closed conference center failed, city officials have opened a second request for proposals for potential uses. of the property.


The intention, according to the request, is a proposal to “rehabilitate, enter into a land lease or lease and operate the property at 6 Rock Street” to “provide a sustainable business operation”.

The city received three proposals, including one to use it as a new brewery site from New England Brewing Co., maker of the Sea Hag IPA, as a flexible banquet site, or for a luxury hotel that would either be a Marriott Autograph, or a Hilton. Curio.

The purchasing committee announced on November 1 that it had selected the brewery proposal to recommend to city council for approval. This week, board members heard presentations from New England Brewing Co. and a representative of the hotel project. A third proposal, for the modular banquet space, was not presented to the board for presentations.

New England Brewing Co., now based in Woodbridge, made waves this month when it announced plans to make West Haven its new home, passing through New Haven after nearly a year of planning for it. ‘a move to River Street in the town of Elm.

Douglas Gray of Eclipse Development told City Council the brewery discovered the West Haven site a few weeks too late, but they kept in touch with Executive Assistant to Mayor Lou Esposito and learned that the site was up again. available after initial proposal failure.

“We jumped on it and said it was a fantastic opportunity,” he said.

Brewery

Gray said the brewery was prepared to invest $ 20 to 25 million to relocate, including building a 52,000 square foot brewery on the site. It would include a valve room, which would increase the city’s tax revenue due to the building’s increased footprint.

“It’s a great place for us with the seaside, but also the raffle here – unlike some of your other things on the beach – we’re a year round raffle,” he said. he declares.

The brewery’s business development manager, Marty Juliano, grew up in West Haven, he told the board, and he believes the business can bring tremendous economic development to his hometown. Sea Hag, he said, is the best-selling IPA in Connecticut, surpassing all other local brands in the state combined. He said the brewery’s output increased 55%, and its revenue increased 150% to $ 5.5 million per year.

Juliano said the prospect of beer tourism would bring engagement to the shore, with beer tourists staying overnight and helping themselves to local restaurants and entertainment.

He said the design concept will strongly incorporate the Savin Rock Museum.

“You will have to walk through it and see all the museum pieces and everything on display as you enter through the front door and cross over 1,000 feet to enter the reception hall space,” he said. he declares.

Juliano said the brewery also considered selling museum wares in its gift shop, which would generate income that could be donated to the city as part of a partnership.

He also preemptively appeased board members who might be worried about the negative impacts on local businesses that the brewery is “not a late night drinking establishment.”

He said the brewery closed at 9 p.m. five days a week and at 10 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays. The brewery is also not a restaurant, he said, although it would work with local restaurants on partnerships to deliver food to brewery patrons.

“We do a lot to try to work with local restaurants and bring them in. We are not a company that wants to hurt local businesses,” he said.

In addition to the 32 jobs associated with the brewery, Juliano said the brewery expects to hire around 75 additional jobs if it moves to West Haven, for both full-time and part-time positions.

In response to a question from City Councilor Gary Donovan, D-At Large, about the annual traffic of brewery projects, Juliano said the Stony Creek Brewery in Branford reports 350,000 annual visitors, but with the location of West Haven by compared to the freeway and with the brand name of New England Brewing, he suggested that the site could attract 500,000 visitors per year.

He said the capacity for the events would be around 400 people seated and 500 people standing.

City Councilor Barry Lee Cohen, R-10, asked if breweries are a trend, citing reports that small and medium-sized breweries have seen their revenues drop by about 8 percent in the past year. Juliano said the drop is modest compared to declines seen by large-scale breweries, and the Sea Hag brand has remained strong in Connecticut.

Gray said construction of the brewery, once all the appropriate permits are received, would take around 4.5 months, pending any delays in the supply chain.

The hotel

Jeffrey Gordon of Codespoti and Associates introduced the luxury hotel concept on behalf of South Dakota-based SBM Hospitality Holdings LLC.

Gordon said the Kelsey Hotel would involve an investment of $ 30 million to $ 35 million from developers to purchase the property and develop a 135-room hotel that would bring in between $ 700,000 and $ 800,000 a year in property taxes.

The proposed project would include an indoor swimming pool, a gym, a rooftop swimming pool and a banquet hall that can accommodate 350 people.

Council Chairman Ron Quagliani, D-At Large, said as a longtime resident he has seen high-end hotels enter the city and be bought by increasingly cheaper hotel brands.

Quagliani said he was concerned that after building a hotel on the waterfront, the developer could retire in several years.

“Is there any assurance that this wouldn’t happen here?” ” he said.

Gordon said location is key.

“There are very, very few waterfront locations available in the area,” he said. “He’s not going to be stigmatized.”

Quagliani also said he was concerned that a multi-story building might not match the landscape of the region. He said he believed the waterfront was not the right location for the project and that a hotel concept might be better suited to the station area.

City Councilor Peter Massaro, D-2, said he had concerns about what could happen if the project goes in circles.

“We’re going to end up with a Debonair again,” he said, referring to the beachfront hotel which was run down and vacant for almost a decade before being very recently bought by a developer.

Massaro also asked Gordon if the proposal would include purchasing the site; Gordon said he would, due to the developer’s estimated $ 35 million investment.

Massaro said the proposal could be more attractive if it involved leasing the property to the city; Company attorney Lee Tiernan then stood next to Gordon at the microphone to advise against negotiating in public.

Mayor Nancy Rossi shared two reasons why she thought the hotel concept “would be a huge mistake for the city of West Haven”. The height, she said, would block the view of the water from the road, and the sale of the property would also reduce the city’s leverage should the area ever be released by the developer.

“What if it doesn’t work and we sold it.” Now we have no property rights, ”she said. “We are very lucky in West Haven, we have a beautiful property. “

Quagliani has set a date for a public hearing on the proposals for November 22.

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