Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development

Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater and the Deschutes River as seen today.

By Janine Unsoeld

The City of Tumwater is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the proposed redevelopment of an area that includes the Old Brewhouse.

The city has determined this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
The site is bounded by Custer Way to the south, the Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the railroad to the east.

All comments to the city are due no later than October 20, 2014 by 5:00 p.m.

Comments on alternatives, mitigation measures, probable significant adverse impacts, and licenses or other approvals that may be required may be directed to: Tim Smith, AICP, City of Tumwater Planning Manager, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501; or (360) 754-4212. 

In comments, refer to case TUM-14-0741. Be clear and concise and if possible, identify possible solutions. For a full description of the plans and proposed alternatives, contact the City of Tumwater.

The city was recently awarded a planning grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board (CERB) to review the potential for public/private partnerships as the site redevelops.  
“According to the grant, we have to be done by June 2015, but we’re targeting a deadline in spring, and hope to have an open house for the public to review the draft EIS by the early part of next year,” said Tim Smith, City of Tumwater planner, earlier this week.

Owner’s Old Brewery Vision
The Old Brewery site owner, George Heidgerken, proposes to make the site into a hotel, restaurants, office space, retail, and a craft brewing and distilling center. Heidgerken bought the 22 acre property about four years ago for $1.5 million. His property also includes land on the Tumwater Historical Park side of the river.

Heidgerken has suggested building a walkway bridge across the river into the park. Currently, the only access road down to the property is a gated, narrow one lane road off of Custer Way.

Similar examples of his vision include worldwide destinations, and, closer to home, Spokane’s Riverfront Park with its historic Flour Mill, an area that contains a host of shops, restaurants, sights and activities for tourists and locals alike.  
Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken will speak about his plans in a presentation on Thursday, October 16, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. at The Schmidt House, 330 Schmidt Place, Tumwater.  Doors open at 11:30 p.m. The event is open to the public. 
Above: The warehouse portion of the brewery has been significantly renovated. The extraordinary space has two floors, totaling about 36,000 square feet.
City of Tumwater – A City Divided
As I-5 cuts through the City of Tumwater, so are the city’s roles and responsibilities divided.

While the city is the lead agency in charge of determining the significant impact a redevelopment of the area would have on the environment, it is also a full partner in working with the current owner to redevelop the site into a craft brewing and distilling center.

A formal letter of mutual public/private partnership was signed in May by eight local organizations and their leaders expressly mentioning this as the primary purpose for their partnership.
The letter is signed by Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken, as president of Falls Development, and leading representatives of the Thurston County Economic Development Council, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, the Port of Olympia, Washington State University Extension, South Puget Sound Community College, the Washington State University School of Food Science and the City of Tumwater.

No tribal, county, or City of Olympia organizations or representatives are listed as partners.
Additionally, according to the October newsletter of the Old Brewhouse Foundation, the city issued a contract in mid-September with a team led by an architectural firm to do a feasibility study on the craft brewing and distilling center goal. Part of their goal is to consider how the main Old Brewery tower can be purchased from its current owner.

The team’s report is expected to be presented to the city in January 2015. The Foundation says it will be “…monitoring the progress of this study and continue to encourage incorporation of a museum, beer-making demonstration opportunities and public gathering spaces as part of the project.”

The mission of the Old Brewhouse Foundation,  an organization created in 2008, is to facilitate development of a plan for acquisition,  restoration and public utilization of the Old Brew house area.

State Environmental Review Process
The City of Tumwater was awarded a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology to assist with conducting an environmental review of the former brewery area.

The planned action environmental impact statement allows a project-level environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) to proceed in advance of project permit application(s) within the planning area.
It will describe a range of development alternatives, evaluate the potential impacts of these scenarios, and identify required mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate significant adverse impacts.

Following its completion and the city’s adoption of a planned action ordinance, a specific development proposal can move forward without further environmental review provided the proposed development is consistent with the EIS and within the range of impacts that have been addressed.
Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris was seen around the Old Brewery building earlier this week. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place trying to divert the water. The hillside is where a multiple story proposed parking garage would be in Alternatives 2 and 3. Tumwater planner Tim Smith said artesian springs are in the hillside and a 1000 stall parking garage as proposed in Alternative 3 would be about five to nine stories.
According to Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, the concrete moats around the building are original to the building, to contain and divert water into a cistern, or large storage tanks, located under the building. This water was used in the brewing process.
Brewery District Vision

Through the Brewery District planning and visioning projects that have been conducted to date, the community has articulated a desire to make the brewery district a vibrant mixed-use destination.  
According to the City of Tumwater website, redevelopment of the historic brewery site has numerous public benefits. These include recreational opportunities and an expanded and integrated trail network. 

It also states that renovation of the historic tower represents civic pride in the brewery site and a successful redevelopment process retaining the architectural and aesthetic elements of the buildings are valuable for the site as living history. 
Potential areas to be considered in the environmental impact study includes: earth (a geotechnical analysis will be prepared), water (wetlands and shorelines), plants and animals; environmental health (former site contamination and hazardous materials); land use; historic and cultural resources; transportation, circulation and parking; public utilities; public services; economy, and a community policy analysis.

Washington Administrative Code 197-11-444 lists elements of the environment that could be considered.

Upper Picture: City of Tumwater planner Tim Smith provided a tour of the Old Brewery to a group of interested citizens earlier this week. When asked, Smith said the Old Brewery property was created on fill and the current parking lot is in a 100 year floodplain. He distributed a 1920’s era picture of the property, above, for reference.
 Proposed Alternatives

According to the City of Tumwater website, three build out alternatives will be analyzed for potential impacts over a 20-year planning horizon:

Alternative 1: No Action. The EIS is required to evaluate impacts associated with a No Action Alternative. For the purpose of the No Action Alternative in the Tumwater Brewery Planned Action EIS, it is assumed that development would occur within the site consistent with existing zoning. Any such development or redevelopment that is proposed within site in conjunction with the No Action Alternative would undergo environmental review on a project-by-project basis. Such projects would be subject to site-specific mitigation and potential SEPA-based appeals, without coverage under the non-project, Planned Action EIS process. Total lot coverage by existing buildings likely to be redeveloped is approximately 67,000 square feet (SF) with approximately 262,000 gross square feet (GSF) of buildable space. Alternative 2: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 493,500 GSF of space.
Alternative 2 is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (200,000 GSF) with approximately 625 stalls and rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF). Prospective land uses would include: parking, office, retail, distillery, craft brewing, hotel, restaurant and a museum. Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 140,000 SF. Improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are also included in this alternative.

Alternative 3: Mixed-Use Redevelopment utilizing 763,500 GSF of space. Alternative 3 is assumed to include redevelopment within existing buildings (262,000 GSF), a new parking structure (320,000 GSF) with approximately 1,000 stalls, rebuild two demolished structures (31,500 GSF) and a new-build structure (150,000 GSF). Prospective land uses under Alternative 3 would be the same as those under Alternative 2, plus residential (apartments and condos). Total lot coverage by buildings is approximately 160,000 SF. Similar to Alternative 2, improved vehicular access, pedestrian bridge over the Deschutes River, connecting trail system and boardwalk are included in this alternative.

Above: The Old Brewery in Tumwater as seen on a tour earlier this week.
For more information about Tumwater's Brewery District Plan, go to the City of Tumwater's website at or see past articles at and use the search button.
For more information about the Old Brewhouse Foundation, go to

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