It’s been a painfully long process for everyone involved. Last year, the city took bids for the highly sought-after city stables property at 3101 W. Clay St. in Scott’s Addition.
Built circa 1920, the centerpiece of the property is a courtyard that’s surrounded on three sides by buildings that once housed horses and their caretakers. Four finalists, including Tap 26, Anderson Neck Oysters, Legend Brewing Co., plus a mystery bidder, made proposals in November. They were called back in March to present once again.
Now, in May, the city finally has reached a decision and the winner is … mystery bidder Blue Bee Cider.
“We started this time last year looking for a space,” Blue Bee owner Courtney Mailey says. “We were outgrowing the space we had.”
In 2013, Blue Bee produced 3,000 cases of cider, and this year it’s on track to make 4,000 cases. That’s the limit of the Manchester cidery’s capacity.
Mailey had several other alternative sites in mind, in case her company didn’t win the bid. And she says her current landlord understood and was supportive of the move. The existing space doesn’t lend itself to expansion.
Given the proximity to Ardent Craft Ales, Isley Brewing Co., Black Heath Meadery and a soon-to-arrive competitor, Buskey Cider Co., I asked if Blue Bee would change after the move, perhaps adopting the Richmond brewery model of weekly food trucks and music.
“We’re not Hardywood,” she says. “The customer experience is going to be the same as it is now.”
Historic tax credits will speed along the process to remodel the property. But the deal isn’t quite done. City Council still must sign off.
“I’m excited, but I don’t want to presume — it’s not set in stone,” Mailey says. “It’s as if we have permission to date [the property] now.” No wedding is on the horizon — yet.