Caribbean Distillers

Jose Rivera, the general manager for Florida Caribbean Distillers, addressed the Winter Haven City Commission on Dec. 4, 2019.

WINTER HAVEN – Originally scheduled for June 5, a major real estate closing between the City of Winter Haven and Caribbean Distillers LLC was recently rescheduled to July 7.

The Winter Haven City Commission agreed to sell around $3.2 million worth of surplus land to Florida Caribbean Distillers staff Dec. 4 for the construction of an aluminum can manufacturing facility.

The facility could employ as many as 160 area residents by January 2021 — jobs that would pay upward of $41,000 per year. The proposed facility is located at the CSX Intermodal rail yard, near State Road 60, between Bartow and Lake Wales.

In December, Winter Haven City Manager Mike Herr called the land deal one of the pivotal moments of Winter Haven history. Last week he said that, once the facility is built out, it could produce an annual stream of $650,000 in property taxes that would benefit the city.

Last week, the city commission also approved a $10 million state grant application. If approved, the money would pay for a city-owned dark fibre line to be extended to the CSX Intermodal rail yard and more access roads around the facility. This would include an extension of Pollard Road, which would allow cars — but not large trucks — to access the facility from Eagle Lake Loop Road.