Wine producer to open in downtown Delaware

By Brandon Klein -

The Strand Theatre may have a new next door neighbor this year.

Delaware City Council approved a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) tax incentive agreement with Kirby Ventures LLC to open the Oak and Brazen, a wine production company and bar, on the first floor of 38 E. Winter St. That building was once home to the Finish Line Bar and Grille about 12 years ago.

“The building has sat empty for 10 years now and has become a black-eye in what has become a great entertainment area,” said owner Jeff Kirby in his incentives application. “This should not be the case.”

The city approved a 100-percent, 15-year CRA tax abatement for about $40,103.33 in tax savings on Kirby’s $110,000 investment to improve the building’s 4,500-square-foot first floor. He is expected to hire six full-time employees with a payroll of about $165,000 within three years.

Delaware City Schools will have to approve the CRA because the abatement is over 50 percent while the compensation agreement is less than half. Under a school pilot payment agreement, the company will pay $9,963.54 after 15 years with the payments to be divided between the city schools and the Delaware Area Career Center.

The new winery is expected to open by Thanksgiving if Kirby secures a federal permit in time, he said. The new business would continue Kirby’s plans to expand his concept of an urban craft winery business model.

He and his wife, Gina, opened the Powell Village Winery, 50 S. Liberty St., Suite 174, in 2011, according to the winery’s website. He gets his grapes and juice from parts of California and Washington. In order to focus on the expansion, Kirby handed over operational control of its tasting room to Dana and Ken Waldron in early December along with its renown events and community outreach.

“We have purchased the building in downtown Delaware to do essentially the same concept on steroids,” Kirby told council. “It’s about four times the size of what we had in Powell so you’ll be able to see the production. There will be a private event barrel room where people can hold private events as well as a tasting room with a long bar and some seating.”

The bar will also serve some plate appetizers where downtown patrons could visit before or after going to a restaurant for dinner.

On the other hand, the second floor is now an afterthought, Kirby said. He intends to find a tenant that will use the floor as office space.

The project would achieve a 121.19 percent return-on-investment for the city with $45,788 in income taxes and 24.84 percent for the schools, according to a city-prepared fact sheet. It read: “This proposed incentive package provides an opportunity to spur considerable investment and continue the upward progress of investment and new businesses in our historic downtown.”

By Brandon Klein

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.

Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.