$100 million Carmel distillery takes another step forward

CARMEL – One of Putnam County’s most exciting business ventures ever will place Carmel on the map of international trade and commerce.

The plan by alcoholic beverages manufacturer Alexandrion Group, headquartered in Romania, has been approved by the state legislature.

The company wants to build a $100 million distillery on property along Seminary Hill Road in Carmel which is now home to the Paladin Center, formerly Guideposts of Carmel.

The state approval will allow the facility to both manufacture alcoholic beverages in addition to selling their product as a retailer.

The measure was introduced by State Senator Peter Harckham and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne and now waits a signature from Governor Cuomo before it becomes law.

It was a year ago when Nawaf Salameh, president and CEO of Alexandrion traveled to Putnam County to announce plans that would replicate in Carmel the investments his firm has in Romania where it controls a distillery.

“In Romania, we have 400 employees and we will have at least the same amount in the U.S.” he said.

Established in 1994 by Salameh, Alexandrion recorded gross sales last year of 83 million Euros by selling more than 10 million bottles of brandy earning the ‘national company number one category alcoholic products’ award by the Chamber of Commerce of Romania.

Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt thanked both Harckham and Byrne for their proactive stance. “Under state law, distilleries cannot sell liquor where it is produced. State legislation was needed allowing Alexandrion to manufacture their product and retail it as well since plans call for a restaurant and tours on site in addition to their manufacturing plant.”

Harckham commended his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their rapid action. “Introducing and passing such legislation in less than three weeks is unheard of in Albany.”

Byrne concurred. “We moved heaven and earth to introduce and pass this legislation in record time.”

Schmitt described the project as a “tremendous opportunity for not only our town but the county and state. The building is there; hundreds of jobs will be created while added revenue will be brought to county and town coffers due to the tourism component associated with the distillery.”

The Carmel Planning Board has already granted site plan approval and a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review Act known as SEQRA. The board’s ruling indicated that the project will not have a “significant adverse environmental impact” on the community resulting in no Environmental Impact Statement being necessary.

Company officials assured the town that the primary access road to the facility will be from Route 6 and not Seminary Hill Road. Plans call for upwards of six to eight trucks daily bringing grains to the facility where three shifts of employees will work five days a week, around the clock.

Plans also call for a visitor’s center to be located on the property where 20 casks of alcohol will be stored.

Salameh said Putnam County was an ideal location for his new facility. “The area is beautiful with sublime scenery. Our business ties into tourism and the location is ideal to bring people into the area with interstate highways nearby, a railroad and only a 35 minute drive to two area airports. We also looked at the demographics of the area and were pleased to see that most residents were highly educated and lived well. This is important in attracting a quality workforce.”

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