Friday, October 16, 2015

Public Comment Sought for Tumwater Brewery Planned Action

Above: The Old Brewhouse property in Tumwater is located within the shoreline environment of the Deschutes River and encompasses critical areas such as steep slopes and wetlands. The City of Tumwater is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement which addresses three proposed planned actions.

By Janine Gates

A handful of community members were present at an informal public meeting Wednesday evening at Tumwater City Hall to discuss a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for three land use scenarios that include the Old Brewhouse.

The City of Tumwater is seeking public comment on the document which addresses three proposed planned actions for the area. The public review and comment period for the document ends at 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30.

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet opened the meeting for information gathering and questions.

“The (Old) Brewery is a very important part of Tumwater. Historically, it’s in the heart of Tumwater….We’ve been doing a lot to position this property for future development, updating our zoning and comprehensive plan related to the property and the neighborhoods around the brewery, and taking a comprehensive look at the transportation requirements and improvements that will need to occur along with any future redevelopment.

“….To make historic preservation work, it has to be tied to a feasible development for the property….The issue is trying to figure it out….” said Kmet. 

The specific area of the EIS is a 32 acre piece of property bounded by Custer Way to the south, Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the Union Pacific Railroad to the east.

The city doesn’t own the property - it is owned by George Heidgerken of Falls Development, LLC who purchased it about five years ago for $1.5 million. 

Heidgerken has yet to submit a formal proposal to the city but has presented the public with drawings of a massive mixed use development which includes a hotel, restaurants, residential units, and a 1,000 vehicle parking garage located directly behind the historic Schmidt House.

Above: The maximum build out development scenario proposed in the Tumwater Brewery Planned Action Draft Environmental Impact Statement. 

The EIS addresses the natural environment such as geology, wetlands and shorelines, and the built environment such as land use, transportation, historic, and cultural resources.

Community members asked questions about seismic retrofit of the buildings, floodplain areas, the trail system, transportation and access to and size of a proposed parking garage, stormwater collection and discharge, tree removal, the nearby Union Pacific Railroad, and more.

There are no specific projects formally submitted to the city, but three land use options have been identified, ranging from no action to a full build out for the site, the latter of which is the development vision of Heidgerken. 

Above: The RST Cellars building, left, on Custer Way in Tumwater is not considered historic and could be remodeled or demolished. In previous conversations with Little Hollywood, the current owner, George Heidgerken, has said he would start redeveloping this property first. Transportation improvements are needed in this area.

The EIS refers to two areas of the Brewery Planned Action Area: 1) the upper portion of the site where the RST Cellars building is located near the historic Schmidt House, and an existing parking lot already there, and 2) the lower portion of the site on which the historic brewhouse is located adjacent to the Deschutes River and Capitol Lake.

It is anticipated that the final EIS will be completed by the end of 2015 although City of Tumwater councilmembers do not necessarily need to choose and adopt a preferred land use alternative by the end of the year.

To provide comment on the EIS or for more information, contact the City of Tumwater, Community Development Department, 555 Israel Road SW,  Tumwater, WA 98501 (360) 754-4180, or .

Jon Potter, project manager for Falls Development LLC attended the Wednesday night meeting, and said that the planned action process and outcome will give Falls Development, LLC certainty as they progress with their plans for the area.

For more information and photos about the Old Brewery and Brewery District Planning, go to Little Hollywood at Articles dated October 12, 2014, “Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development,” and October 16, 2014, “Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision,” are just two stories. Many more related articles can be found by using the search button on this blog and typing in key words.

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