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Assembly to hear brewery deal


Haines Borough manager David Sosa and the Haines Brewing Company have reached a deal for purchase of 20,000 square feet of borough land on Main Street. The negotiated agreement will go to the assembly for approval Tuesday.

Brewery owners Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama agreed to pay $4.33 per square foot for the property, totaling about $86,600. The price per square foot is $1.33 more than their initial $3 proposal. The land is assessed at $4.33 per square foot.

The agreement also includes a reduction in property taxes for the brewery for the first three years of ownership.

According to a memo addressed to the planning commission, Sosa offered a 50 percent reduction in property taxes for the first year, a 30 percent reduction for the second year and a 25 percent reduction for the third year.

“No other economic incentives were agreed to,” Sosa said.

Sosa cited the Comprehensive Plan as reason for the tax break, as the plan specifically mentions providing economic incentives in the form of temporary property tax reductions to draw businesses downtown.

Sosa also noted the ultimate approval of the sale “will provide property tax on a parcel currently not producing any revenue” and “will likely increase sales tax revenue from the downtown area.”

Discussions between Wheeler, Kitayama and Sosa also addressed the building’s conformity with the downtown aesthetic, the availability of off-street parking, traffic mitigation and the potential for expansion.

“This negotiated price and request for a temporary reduction of our property taxes allows us more operating capital at the critical beginning stages of this new venture,” Wheeler and Kitayama said in a letter. “In the short term, this means our business will be up and running sooner, which means more sales tax revenue for the borough. In the long term, the borough will be gaining a significant value in their property tax roll.”

Assembly member and planning commission liaison Debra Schnabel this week said she opposed property tax reduction for the brewery because Aspen Hotels, which recently bought more than 52,000 square feet of adjacent property, didn’t receive a similar break.

“I’m flabbergasted that no one offered Aspen the same amount of consideration, and their business will certainly impact this community more than a brewery,” Schnabel said.

If the borough grants the brewery a property tax reduction, Schnabel said she’d like to see the borough adopt a policy about tax waivers to be applied uniformly to businesses seeking to move downtown.

If the deal is approved by the assembly, Wheeler and Kitayama hope to break ground on the new facility this fall.


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