WASHINGTON, Beaufort County - A new business is hoping to provide downtown Washington with some added economic incentive.
It's supposed to be the economic hub of downtown Washington, but if you take a walk down Main Street, you'll see a lot of abandoned and vacant buildings. A former bank in the area hasn't been occupied for 12 years. But a man from across the pond hopes to use it to help revitalize downtown.
Nick Sanders moved from London to Washington earlier this year. He and his wife decided to share his country's love of gin with downtown Washington.
"We had the idea of setting up a distillery and restaurant and we were looking for the perfect venue for it," Sanders said.
That's when they came across the old Bank of Washington building. It's been sitting unoccupied for years in the heart of downtown. They bought it in July and recently received backing from city council, which passed a resolution supporting a state grant to help with the Sanders' project.
The grant from the State Department of Commerce will help with the $800,000 project. Sanders hopes to start construction on the Hackney Distillery by the start of 2018 and aim for a summer grand opening.
"So we're gonna use the amazing vault there, that's where the kitchen's gonna be," Sanders said.
"We're certainly understanding how fast Greenville's growing, and New Bern's certainly growing, and we try to utilize some of the tools that they're doing so we can catch some of that growth too," said John Rodman, Washington City Planning Director.
With other nearby vacant buildings waiting to be occupied, Sanders said he hopes the distillery is the beginning of a total Main Street renewal.
"I think the whole story about this area is one of regeneration," Sanders said. "And what we're gonna do with this building is to take it, we're gonna be true to its historical roots, but make something new and exciting with it."
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