BARRE — Fine meat producer Vermont Salumi will open a facility in the former Homer Fitts building in downtown Barre.
Company owner Peter Roscini Colman said Friday the move will relocate production from Plainfield to Barre. Last week, the Barre Town Select Board heard from Barre Area Development Corp. Executive Director Joel Schwartz, who told members the company has outgrown its current facility.
Schwartz asked the board to sign off on a $180,000 loan to renovate the building and purchase equipment. The seven-year loan, at 6.3 percent interest, includes $50,000 from the town’s revolving loan fund and the remainder from the Vermont Community Loan Fund.
Board member Norman Malone asked Schwartz if he could think of any other production businesses that exist on the main street in Barre.
“I’d have to think about it, but the answer is no,” Schwartz said. “What’s happening, as you know, is the retail sector is getting hollowed out by the internet.”
Schwartz said the city’s zoning for the building requires a retail storefront component. Colman said Friday he’s not sure what the retail space will be, and Schwartz noted he doesn’t think the store could support only Colman’s wares.
“There’s some discussion about bringing other specialty foods into the storefront,” Schwartz said. “He’s not under any obligation to do what I think. He is under an obligation to lease some space at the front of the store. It makes sense to tie it to his business because he may not have to totally wall it off from the back end, in terms of construction costs, if he does that.”
Schwartz noted Colman has a lease for the property, which includes an option to buy the building from its current owner, Thom Lauzon. He said Colman will first focus on getting production up and running in the back of the building before focusing on the storefront.
The board unanimously approved the loan.
Vermont Salumi makes a variety of cured meats including sausage, salami and prosciutto.