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Lease falls through on planned Northport brewery

Paul Dlugokencky, owner of the Blind Bat Brewery,

Paul Dlugokencky, owner of the Blind Bat Brewery, with his Long Island Potato Stout, left, and Sweet Potato Saison, at the Baldwin Farmers Market on April 27, 2013. Credit: Barry Sloan

The Centerport brewer who had planned to move his garage-based business to Northport is again looking for a space for his brewery, after lease negotiations fell through.

Paul Dlugokencky thought he had found a home for Blind Bat Brewery on Scudder Avenue in Northport, where he could have expanded and produced more product. He said he is looking for new locations across Long Island, resuming a yearslong search.

"We are literally back to square one," he said.

Dlugokencky said he and the property owner had negotiated a lease that would include a "right of first refusal," which Dlugokencky said meant he could have matched any offer to buy the site.

"It was just a matter of semblance of security for us because we knew we would be putting a lot into transforming the space into a brewery," he said.

Lee Holcomb, the property owner, said Wednesday the "right of refusal was definitely a breaking point." He said he did not think it was a big deal, since they were negotiating a 10-year lease, with the option for a five-year extension.

He said his attorney advised him not to have the provision in the lease. He said he might reach out to other brewers, since his property has approval to run one. "I would like to get my building rented. . . . It's been empty a year," he said.

The Northport zoning board unanimously approved the application for a brewery on April 23, with several conditions, including prohibiting outdoor activity, seating, prepared food on premises and live music.

After that approval, Dlugokencky and Holcomb continued to negotiate, but the right of first refusal provision was not included in the final version of the lease, Dlugokencky said.

Northport Chamber of Commerce President Debi Triola was disappointed when she heard the news. Triola said she had hoped the brewery would become "another great place to go in Northport."

Triola said Dlugokencky is a "wonderful local member of the community. . . . I just think it is sad."

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