The Coloradoan | Pat Ferrier | April 18, 2018

Old Elk Distillery is opening a tasting room in Old Town Fort Collins but backing away from plans to build a large distillery in the city’s adjacent River District.

Instead, Curt and Nancy Richardson — founders of OtterBox, Blue Ocean Enterprises and Old Elk — will move their planned distillery from the corner of Linden and Willow streets to a building they own at 1415 Blue Spruce in north Fort Collins, Old Elk CEO Luis Gonzalez said.

Logistics of getting 18-wheelers into the original site and some infrastructure associated with the distilling process made the River District property less desirable, said officials from Blue Ocean, which owns the site.

Blue Ocean is keeping the property and considering the best use for the site.

“The 360 Linden lot is the largest, vacant tract of land in the River District and we want to make sure we get it right,” said Steve Schroyer, Blue Ocean’s director of real estate.

“There are a few interesting projects coming online in the River District. We will continue to monitor how well those projects do and evaluate all options moving forward,” he said.

1415 Blue Spruce LLC, a company sharing an address with Blue Ocean, purchased the 40,000-square-foot Blue Spruce site in May 2015 for $2.47 million. Engineering company CPP Inc currently occupies part of the warehouse building.

Gonzalez expects construction to begin within a couple months and said the design will incorporate some elements of the distillery previously planned for the River District.

That design included a 10,251-square-foot, two-story building with a restaurant, tasting room and retail sales, plus a nearly 33,000-square-foot building for the distilling operation on the southwest corner of Linden and Willow streets.

The city approved Old Elk’s plans for downtown nearly two years ago, but the company never moved forward on the site.

Blue Ocean briefly considered moving distilling operations to the historic Windsor Mill, which it owns, but abandoned its plans, saying the 117-year-old building was not efficient for distilling operations.

Old Elk, which launched Dry Town Vodka, Dry Town Gin and Nooku Bourbon Cream in late 2016, currently makes its product at a nondescript warehouse at 1713 Lincoln Ave.

Gonzalez said as the distillery’s volume increases, the space “is just not operationally sound” to handle an efficient work environment. “As we grow we need to manufacture faster and more efficiently.”

The company “has been silently expanding,” and its products will be available in 14 states as of June 1, he said.

Tasting room opening this summer

Old Elk hopes to have the tasting room at 253 Linden St. open by Aug. 1 and no later than Aug. 10, in time for Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest.

The tasting room is in the former home of Wasted Space and Poudre Keg in the heart of Old Town and is across the street from Blue Ocean’s property at 242 Linden, which houses Spaces, a co-working space.

A building permit application filed with the city of Fort Collins last week indicates the 1,845-square-foot space would be fully renovated, including removing the existing mezzanine and relocating the bar.

Old Elk will be the fourth business operating out of 253 Linden St. in the past four years, since Luscious Nectar closed in 2014. The site later became a taproom for Old Town Distilling, which left in late 2015 to ramp up production elsewhere.

The site reopened in April 2016 as the Poudre Keg bar, which Michael Campana bought and turned into Wasted Space.

Wasted Space abruptly shut down in March. At the time, Campana said “an opportunity arose and we decided to sell our venue.”

Old Elk is leasing the space owned by Douglas Gennetten, according to Larimer County records.

Campana said Wednesday he is still looking for a location to reopen Wasted Space and is “on the right path. He said he has a specific site in mind but needs to do his due diligence.

Full article at coloradoan.com

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