A plan to turn the historic, vacant, city-owned fire station on Main Street into a distillery was presented to the Ketchikan City Council on Thursday.
Mark Sivertsen and Travis Robbins gave the presentation. A third co-owner, Jack White, is a certified distiller and is in the process of moving to Ketchikan, according to presentation materials.
Sivertsen said Uncharted Alaska Distillery would offer craft spirits infused with locally sourced flavors, Alaska-style appetizers, and apparel and gifts.
The spirits offered would be vodka, whiskey, gin, agave – which is essentially tequila – and rum.
He said the old fire station is ideal in terms of location, size and load-bearing capacity for all the equipment.
“They parked large trucks in that foundation,” Sivertsen said. “A lot of people know downtown is built on pilings and posts and who knows what else is under there. I’ve been under that dock before and it’s … interesting. That’s one of the few structures in the downtown area that would house it. We’d like to stay downtown.”
Sivertsen said a downtown location would be central for summertime tourist traffic, as well as the local market.
The Main Street fire station was built in 1943. It’s been unoccupied and used for storage for about seven years.
Following the presentation from Uncharted Alaska, council members expressed interest in the proposal. But, other parties interested in the property have sent letters to the city.
Council Member Janalee Gage said the city needs to go through a process to make sure everyone gets an equal opportunity.
“I think it’s a great idea. However, I also think it’s only fair — that it would have to be put out on the market, to be fair to everybody across the board. Or it just, it looks like favoritism,” she said.
The council gave direction to City Manager Karl Amylon to bring back a motion at the next meeting to start the process of putting the building up for sale.
Also Thursday, the council voted 6-1 to approve an ordinance restricting the use of fireworks in the City of Ketchikan to only the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Council Member Julie Isom cast the only “no” vote.
“I’m all for common sense with using fireworks, but not for more laws,” she said.
The new law means it’s illegal for anyone to discharge fireworks within city limits except between 9 a.m. July 4th and 1 a.m. July 5th; and between 9 a.m. Dec. 31st and 1 a.m. Jan 1st.
The next Ketchikan City Council meeting is a special meeting on Nov. 8th to discuss in executive session a new lease agreement with PeaceHealth. The city owns the hospital building, and PeaceHealth operates it.
The regular council meeting of Nov. 15th has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 19th, due to an expected lack of a quorum on the regular meeting day.