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Price estimate for Brown-Forman’s Main Street distillery jumps 50%

by David A. Mann

Published in Business First Louisville Online | May 28, 2015

Remember how exciting it was when Brown-Forman Corp. announced that it was investing $30 million to build a distillery on Main Street? Well, here’s exciting news: The company is now investing $45 million in the project.

Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF-B) first announced the new distillery, which will produce its Old Forester bourbon brand, in September. The distillery is going to be built in two vacant, historic properties at 117 and 119 W. Main Street. The company announced in a news release Thursday that it has purchased those buildings from Main Street Revitalization LLC for $4.5 million. Law firm Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC brokered the deal.

The bigger price tag was included at the bottom of Thursday’s news release but it’s not a complete surprise. Old Forester president Campbell Brown told me in March that the $30 million price tag was expected to go up.

Brown-Forman’s corporate communications manager, Elizabeth Conway, said the price has risen as the company’s plans for the property have become more developed. She was not aware of anything specific that caused the price increase.

Costs tend to rise when you’re talking about rehabbing historic old structures on Main Street, as leaders at Michter’s Distillery can tell you.

The combined buildings have about 55,000 square feet with 52 linear feet facing Main Street, the release said. The brick and masonry facade will be preserved and fully restored.

Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co. has been chosen as the managing contractor of the project.

The properties were built around 1857 and used for warehousing barrels of whiskey produced at numerous distilleries in the area. At least 19 distillers, wholesalers and other whiskey-related businesses called that block of West Main Street home, the release said. Between 1900 and 1919, Brown-Forman operated at 117 W. Main Street before moving to its current headquarters at 850 Dixie Highway.

The release said the new distillery will allow the company to double its current production of Old Forester, a brand that has been growing recently.

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