Danbury developer seeking zoning OK for distillery
Danbury’s planning and zoning commissions are weighing a local developer’s proposal for a distillery within the city’s limits, with a tenant lined up for a site it has yet to specify.
JAR Associates is a real estate company operating as JAR Property Management under the Rizzo Cos., whose subsidiaries include the general contractor firm Rizzo Corp.
JAR Associates has petitioned the Danbury commissions to add distilleries to the list of commercial entities allowed in the city’s IL-40 light industrial zones.
Danbury has two dozen such districts, with the city amending its zoning code in 2017 to allow breweries, amid a statewide boom in microbreweries and brewpubs. The zoning commission was expected to meet Tuesday evening to vote on the proposal.
“We are supportive of this effort,” Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton stated in an email response to a Hearst Connecticut Media query. “We are excited about the prospect of a new distillery in Danbury.”
Efforts to reach JAR Associates Tuesday on potential sites for a distillery were not successful. According to city records, JAR Associates owns two commercial properties classified for light industrial use, the Rizzo Companies headquarters on Triangle Street and a historic building behind that complex once occupied by the Lee Hat Co., on Shelter Rock Road a short distance from the Charter Oak Brewing taproom that opened a year ago.
JAR Associates owns also a vacant lot on Triangle Street zoned for light industrial use, where Rizzo Cos. park vehicles and equipment.
Connecticut has about a dozen active distilleries, including SoNo 1420 Artisan Distillers in South Norwalk which offers a hemp-infused whiskey; Asylum Distillery in Bridgeport; and Litchfield Distillery in Litchfield.
Next up is Continuum Distilling, a Waterbury venture operating under the slogan “all whiskey starts as beer,” which is repurposing solids from the beer brewing process for spirits. Its founding team created Black Hog Brewing Co. in 2014 in Monroe.
And in Roxbury, an entrepreneur named Elliott Davis has been promoting plans for Mine Hill Distillery.
The head of the Connecticut Spirits Trail said he expects more to follow, with the Connecticut General Assembly considering legislation this spring that would ease a current two-ounce serving restriction on distillery tasting rooms, allowing them to operate more on par with brewery taprooms and vineyards.
“The current legal environment is such that a few have gone offline and several others are having some difficulty thriving or even surviving,” said Tom Dubay, Connecticut Spirits Trail president and CEO of Hartford Flavor Co., which makes Wild Moon Liqueurs. “Right now, it’s somewhat of a hollow experience because we have to tell them that we are facing these limits, and folks generally have a 30-minute, maybe a 45-minute stay, and then they go.”
Includes prior reporting by Jordan Grice and Justin Papp.
Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman