Saturday, December 2, 2023

Copper Fox Distillery Gets Final OK From City Council

Rick Wasmund, owner of Sperrysville-based Copper Fox Distillery, wants to buy the former Lord Paget motel from the City of Williamsburg to open a second location. (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)
The Williamsburg City Council approved a special use permit for the Copper Fox Distillery, clearing the way for the business to open a location at the former site of the Lord Paget Motel. (Nicole Trifone/WYDaily)

The Williamsburg City Council brought a highly touted new business a step closer to reality Thursday.

In a 4-0-1 vote, council members voted to approve a special use permit for Copper Fox Distillery Enterprises LLC to open and operate a microdistillery at the former site of the Lord Paget Motel on Capitol Landing Road. Council member Scott Foster abstained, as Copper Fox is represented by his future employer.

Now that the venture has passed all regulatory hurdles, the City of Williamsburg and Copper Fox owner Rick Wasmund can finalize the sale of the motel site, which is currently owned by the city.

“I’m comfortable with the application and the timing,” Councilman Doug Pons said. “I think it works for [Wasmund] and it works for us.”

The Capitol Landing site will be the second location for the Sperryville-based Copper Fox. Wasmund’s plan for the new microdistillery includes “retail and distillery, storage and production, office and meeting rooms, barrel storage, gin garden and a residence for the owner.”

The city bought the property at 901 Capitol Landing Road in November 2011 for $697,400. Its most recent assessed value was $877,100. In June, Wasmund agreed to purchase the property for $600,000, contingent on the approval of the special use permit.

John Tarley, an attorney representing Wasmund and Copper Fox in the process, said the business would be a welcome addition to the city and the residents of the Forest Hills area.

“[The Architectural Review Board] and [the Planning Commission] were interested in what the plans were for the footprint of the motor court at the hotel, and it’s going to be a truly adaptive reuse of the property,” Tarley said.

At the Planning Commision’s Aug. 20 meeting, Tarley had said tourism would be a central focus at the distillery, pointing to the site’s nearby access to the Greater Williamsburg area, Interstate 64 and local tourist destinations as key motivations for the project. He said the distillery planned on selling products within a year of commencing operations.

City estimates suggest the distillery will generate $216,000 in tax revenue for the first six years of operation, and then $86,000 in successive years.

“Like Mr. Tarley said, it’s an adaptive reuse of an existing and fairly attractive property, and it could lead to further redevelopment,” Vice Mayor Paul Freiling said. “I think it shows that we can set the ground work, set up the structure but sometimes we have to rely on the private sector to finish it.”

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