Starting out as an hourly production employee in 1961, Knight went through a series of promotions to eventually enjoy a long career as the Brewmaster at the “modern” brewery, the Olympia Brewing Company, from 1974 to 1997.
“It’s a grand old building,” he said as he helped provide captions for pictures taken of the Old Brewhouse on the October 18 tour.
The importance of the structure was recognized in 1978 when the property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, it was listed as one of "Washington State's Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties" by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
Stop Work Order Comments, Reactions
Local reaction to the stop work order has been steady since the news was first reported by Little Hollywood on October 30.
Michael Chun of Associated Environmental Group, a local engineering firm working with Heidgerken, was shocked when he saw recent pictures of the site on the Little Hollywood blog.
Chun said that his firm’s involvement with the project is focused on the hazardous material cleanup of metals contamination due to the painting of barrels with leaded paint. A former paint shop was located on the site, near the hillside that contains several artesian springs.
“Barrels were scattered all over the place,” he said. As part of a voluntary cleanup agreement with the state Department of Ecology, Heidgerken hired Chun’s firm to characterize the contamination and remove the top level of soil.
“Now we need to deal with the groundwater….We’re looking for dissolved metals. At this point, we don’t know if it’s contaminated. We need to set three resource protection wells,” explained Chun. Chun said he had wanted to place the wells this past summer, but Heidgerken delayed for unknown reasons.
“The sooner we get this started, the better. I am waiting for grading to get a drill rig down there….it’s a challenging site. I’d like to get started by the end of the year.” Chun said that Ecology requires that the water be sampled four consecutive quarters for a year.
Chun, who has led several successful environmental restoration efforts in downtown Olympia, said he hadn’t been at the Old Brewhouse property in quite a while. Chun reacted upon seeing the most recent Little Hollywood article about the old brewery.
“Holy Cow!” Chun exclaimed when he saw the pictures. “ ….I can tell you right now I won’t be able to get a drill rig down there….George clearly went above and beyond what we needed,” said Chun. With a new perspective on the situation, Chun said he would visit the site in person as soon as possible.
Asked to comment on the stop work order, City of Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet wrote a response to Little Hollywood last week. He also sent his statement to the Thurston County commissioners, the Port of Olympia commissioners, and City of Olympia and Tumwater councilmembers.
“I’ve read your blog and appreciate your interest in the environment and this iconic site. I assure you that it is my desire to have any redevelopment of this site protect the historic assets while respecting the location from an environmental and cultural perspective. We continue to work with a number of experts to try and find that balance,” wrote Kmet.
Kirkwood, along with Tumwater City Councilmember Tom Oliva, toured the Old Brewhouse site on October 18 with several citizens. Kirkwood, along with Oliva founded the organization in 2008 to “motivate the community in developing the Old Brewhouse for a public purpose.”
The Old Brewhouse Foundation has chosen not to take a formal position on Heidgerken's plans nor did the organization comment on the city's determination of significance and scope of the environmental impact statement for the area.
Richard Gollis and Adam Seidman of The Concord Group summarized the market study results for the council. The team identified the potential for a wide array of land uses at the site, taking advantage of existing structures as well as building new ones.
The group says there is approximately 400,000 to 500,000 square feet of supportable development over a 10-year period. A phased in, mixed use approach could be developed along Custer Way as an early catalyst, as well as working through the concept of the craft brewery and distilling center.
The group said that of the three proposed land use alternatives identified by the city, the third alternative, the full mixed use redevelopment alternative, would maximize the area's potential. A mixed use project off Custer Way, including the Cellars Building at 240 Custer Way, and the historic brewhouse, could serve to bring people to the area.
The analysis considered different land uses at the site, such as an apartment building, condominiums, hotel, retail, office, and special destination uses, such as the craft brewery and distilling center.
Limiting development to renovation of the historic structure was not recommended because of the amount of infrastructure development required for the site.
The consultants said that the reason people would come to the area is to enjoy retail and hospitality, and would want to live here because it is near historic structures and the Deschutes River. Educational institutions would be an important component of the property’s future success.
City Administrator John Doan commented on the importance of the craft brewery and distilling center or another special destination use to help accelerate the development timeline.