FORT SMITH (KFSM)—Core Brewing and Distilling Co. is taking over the old Times Record building. They're turning it into a distillery and cooperage.
“We probably won't do a lot of brewing here,” Jay Richardson said. “It will primarily be just a distillery, so we'll do any whiskeys, rums and then the cooperage, which is the making of the barrels that they would go into.”
Core has been gutting the building for the past two months, but printing presses made out of metal cast steel have been more difficult than expected to get out of the building.
“We thought we could go in and just pull it apart and take it out, but what we're having to do is get welders in,” Richardson said. “They're having to cut them piece by piece.”
The Springdale-based company plans to make the building next to the Times Record facility a two-story retail and office space. Richardson said they’ll likely have to demolish it and build it from the ground up.
“The initial investment we felt was a fair price,” Richardson said. “What we’re realizing is the amount of work we had to do once we got in here.”
Despite the challenges, Core is passionate about revitalizing downtown Fort Smith.
“We want it to be a place Fort Smith is proud to call their own,” Richardson said. “We want to be able to contribute back to the community the way it contributed to us, as we grew up here.”
In about 18 to 24 months, Richardson expects the distillery and cooperage construction to be complete.
“We'd be able to have people walk in, see what we do, see how we do it and get a real good feel of what Core Brewing and Distillery is like,” he said.
John Post, with the University of Arkansas Fort Smith said the school is exploring the possibility of offering a program in collaboration with the distillery in the future.