Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tumwater Passes Brewery Property Ordinance

Above: The five story RST Cellars Building at 240 Custer Way is part of the planned action land use ordinance passed by the Tumwater City Council on Tuesday evening. Built over a period of years starting in 1966, the industrial building housed large beer cooling tanks and is not historic. It is located near the historic Schmidt House. In promotional materials, Falls Development has marketed it as a possible hotel with retail on the ground floor. Recently, it has been suggested as the location for a craft brewing and distillery center. It could also be a structured parking garage. Falls Development has said that the redevelopment of this building is one of its first priorities. Photo taken April 16, 2016.

By Janine Gates

“We’re on our way, for better or worse,” said City of Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet, after the Tumwater city council voted 5 – 2 on Tuesday evening in favor of a planned action land use ordinance that includes the site of the Old Brewhouse.

Councilmembers Ed Hildreth and Joan Cathey voted no.

The action concluded a lengthy public hearing and finalized a land use plan three years in the making for the 32 acre area currently owned by developer George Heidgerken and Falls Development LLC.  The area is roughly bounded by Custer Way to the south, the Deschutes River to the west, Capitol Lake to the north and the railroad to the east.

Out of three land use alternatives offered by the city, the modified ordinance was a compromise of sorts, landing somewhere between a do-nothing approach and a maximum redevelopment build out. 

The council did not give Heidgerken his desired full build-out, instead opting for an alternative that limits a new parking garage to 625 stalls. Parking for a new building, a residential component, would be within that garage.

It also limits any new building within the planned action area to a maximum elevation of 126 feet, which is the ground level in the immediate vicinity of the Schmidt House, to preserve views from the house.

Offering a flexible design, the types of development and square footage of new development may be shifted between land uses, but the total of new PM peak hour vehicle trips can not exceed 306 trips.

The planned action ordinance will be reviewed again in five years by the city’s State Environmental Policy Act official, at which time it could be amended.

On April 5, the City of Tumwater approved a letter of agreement between the city and Falls Development LLC to acquire the six story, historic tower. The acquisition would also include easements to access the property and construct trails.

The tower is currently owned by Heidgerken, who has not yet signed the letter of agreement. He has until April 30 to do so.

During public comment time on Tuesday evening, concern was expressed by a member of the public that Heidgerken may back out and not sign the agreement if the council did not give Heidgerken his desired full build out.

Anthony Hempsted, a new hire of Falls Development LLC, spoke to that concern, saying it has taken partnership and vision to get this far with the city.

“Clearly, the city and Falls Development are in a long term relationship….In no way, shape or form would we walk away from it,” said Hempsted about the letter of agreement.

He praised the council for a transparent website, saying he had reviewed videos of past meetings.  

Regarding the ordinance, he said that Falls Development does not think it is perfect and would have preferred a full build out and more parking, but is willing to work with the city in good faith and the ordinance as written.

He said Falls Development will work on the first phase as soon as possible, the RST Cellars building, saying it could be a great craft brewing and distillery center, and would be a natural catalyst for future development.

The second phase would be the historic site.

“We have not done extensive work on what that would look like in the future. Any development would have to fit within the guidelines of the Historic (Preservation) Commission and we will certainly not do anything to infringe upon the historic nature of the four buildings.…”

Redevelopment of the area includes preservation or restoration of the historic buildings within the planned action area, which are the Old Brewhouse, the east and west warehouses, and the keg house.

Several individuals spoke in support of the ordinance.

Michael Cade, executive director of the Thurston Economic Development Council, admitted this was not an easy site, but spoke in support of the planned action and mentioned other successful planned actions he’s been involved with such as the Southwest Everett Environmental Impact Area and the Bellingham Waterfront District.

Mariella Cummings, chair of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, also supported the ordinance, saying the Chamber recognizes the importance of the brewhouse property as a critical jewel in our community’s character. She commended the council, as did others, for the creative, deliberative, thoughtful approach the city has used to get this far in the process.

David Nicandri, a member of Tumwater’s Historic Preservation Committee, the group that will ultimately decide whether or not to issue Heidgerken the required Certificate of Appropriateness for his projects, if they are ever submitted, spoke in support of the planned action. Nicandri is also the former longtime director of the Washington State Historical Society.

Speaking at length as he did at the April 5 public hearing in support of the city’s acquisition of the historic tower, Nicandri likened the city’s challenge regarding the Old Brewery to the City of Tacoma’s revitalization of the Old Union Station into a district courthouse.

Explaining that it was a former Superfund site, he said that every development project has its limitations and opportunities. The Union Station had outlived its usefulness as a station and the only way it was going to be saved was if new development filled in around it. Ideas for its purpose were bantered around. He said the city did the necessary planning and was ready to go when the creative energies of the community finally mobilized around the project.

“So it is possible, with solid design criteria… to do significant infill and do it sensitively, as was done in the case of the Tacoma Union Station project.”

Adding that the Old Brewhouse site is not a pristine, environmental preserve, he continued, saying that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was urban Tacoma. He said this property, when fully built out in 10 to 20 years, could be nationally recognized.

Others expressed concerns or spoke in opposition to the ordinance.

Krag Unsoeld, president of the South Puget Environmental Education Clearinghouse (SPEECH), expressed concerns about sea level rise for this area and that all the environmental impacts of developing the hillside, removal of the artesian springs, and widening of the road to access the site have not been taken into consideration.

He also expressed concern about the city’s questionable business practice of entering into a hefty financial commitment to restore the tower, and asked how the city is going to follow through if it does not get grant money.

He said the situation was like a tragic comedy.

“…There is some belief that none of this (redevelopment) will ever happen….If you believe that Heidgerken is not serious (about his plans)… then don’t rely on him backing out in hopes of getting what you hope to attain.  Just draw the line and say no, that’s not appropriate, it’s not environmentally appropriate….”

Ryan Carlson said he supports the idea of redevelopment at the site but that the ordinance went too far in scope and scale.  He said that because the brewery is in a historic district, the bar for redevelopment should be set higher, and urged the council to maintain the integrity of the site. Specifically, he said the mitigation plan for the hillside’s stability would require significant re-engineering and the integrity of the site would be lost in the process.

Speaking of diminished integrity, Carlson said he grew up on Tumwater Hill, and noted that the once spectacular Overlook Park, which had allowed for a 360 degree, panoramic view of the city and the region, was reduced to the size of a postage stamp.

Others who spoke in opposition to the ordinance included former Olympia Mayor Bob Jacobs.

“It is ironic that at the same time Olympia is working to eliminate its 'Mistake on the Lake,' Tumwater seems determined to have one of its own,” he said.

The vote was put in the form of a motion by Councilmember Neil McClanahan who said everyone has done their homework. The motion was seconded by Councilmember Tom Oliva.

Councilmember Nicole Hill said that while this was the hardest issue she has considered since she’s been on the council, she was pleased that details have been tightened up in the last few weeks.

Councilmember Joan Cathey expressed concern that the council is not in control of the “sweet spot” –  the balance between responsible development and protecting the environment.

Councilmembers were influenced by the thoughtful comments made by the public and all appreciated the high level of civil discourse demonstrated by the public and councilmembers.

Councilmember Tom Oliva, choking up, said the issue was surprisingly hard to talk about, and reminisced how, 20 years ago, he saw the tower, was immediately intrigued by it and wondered why it was dark.

Saying the planned action ordinance was “a little bit overbuilt, in my opinion,” Oliva said he was hopeful and confident that this last opportunity to preserve the buildings will work.

For more photos and information about the planned action, the Old Brewery property and historic tower, George Heidgerken, Falls Development LLC, Tumwater, the brewery district planning efforts and related issues, go to Little Hollywood,

For more information about the Planned Action from the City of Tumwater, go to

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Tumwater Acquires Historic Tower

Above: Brambles hang from an archway window of Tumwater's historic Old Brewhouse. City of Tumwater councilmembers entered into an agreement with owner George Heidgerken and his company, Falls Development LLC, to take ownership of the six story tower that is the visual symbol of Tumwater. Photo taken in October 2014.

By Janine Gates

Tumwater city councilmembers approved a letter of agreement between the city and Falls Development LLC at a public hearing held Tuesday evening to acquire the six story, historic tower that is the symbol of Tumwater. 

The tower is currently owned by developer George Heidgerken and his company, Falls Development, LLC.

The acquisition commits the city to the rehabilitation of the Old Brewhouse structure with an estimated cost of $5.6 million. The acquisition includes easements to access the property and construct trails.

The city will now embark upon a historic preservation strategy that will include finding funding grants and partners to protect the building, and create trails. 

Rushing through the public process, the draft letter of agreement was publicly available and posted to the city’s website on Friday afternoon. Corrections to the letter of agreement were made at the hearing, including sections quoted by Little Hollywood in its story posted April 1.

Details were not reviewed by councilmembers in a work session or council meeting prior to Tuesday evening, leading them to ask questions and learn new information during the public hearing.

Jim Cary of Cardinal Architecture presented information about the tower which is an unreinforced masonry structure. He said it works well when dry, but when wet, and in the process of freezing and thawing, the mortar is loosened. The tower is highly exposed to the elements.

A temporary preservation plan estimated to cost $425,000 would provide immediate protection due to the building’s rapidly deteriorating condition. Cary recommended skipping that step and moving on to the $1.6 million dollar phase that provides more permanent protection, puts a roof on the structure, provides ventilation to keep the building dry inside, repairs the mortar, and cleans up and removes hazardous elements.

This work and financial amount is included in the final $5.6 million dollar cost that prepares the tower for an intensive seismic retrofit plan.

Construction management is not included in the cost.

Comparisons of the historic tower to the Space Needle and the Smith Tower in Seattle, Crusader castles, castles on the Rhine, and the Statue of Liberty were eloquently and persuasively made throughout the evening.

Several members of the public spoke to the proposed letter of agreement, some in favor, some not.  

More than one person was suspicious of the city working with Heidgerken, a developer with a history of committing environmental offenses, even on this property. 

All considered the tower to be a regional asset and a regional responsibility. All councilmembers spoke to the issues.

Councilmember Joan Cathey abstained from the final vote, saying the draft agreement letter was vague. She said she counted five places where it says the city will have “future negotiations,” with the developer.

“I’m not saying I’m against it, but it’s a leap…I don’t think the city is ready to take on this project…I don’t feel totally good about it. I have concerns. We’re financially stepping out farther out on a limb than we ever have before,” said Cathey.

She also wondered why there was a rush to sign the letter of agreement.

Answer: Once the tower is in the city’s hands, the city is eager to take advantage of this current cycle of state heritage grant funding. Applications are due May 19. If the city doesn’t meet the deadline, or does meet the deadline and doesn’t get a grant, then they will have to wait another two years to apply.

Councilmember Nicole Hill questioned a point in the letter that states that the city will pursue funding for a pedestrian bridge across the river to the property. She thought, as did several members of the public, that that idea was taken off the table as unfeasible in the Planned Action land use scenarios currently under consideration by the council. Another public hearing for that process is April 19.

Assistant city administrator and brewery project manager Heidi Behrends Cerniway said the city didn’t include the bridge in the Planned Action environmental impact statement because it was not detrimental, adding that it is not an entirely impossible concept further in the process. Whether or not the answer was satisfactory, Hill voted for the purchase of the tower.

Councilmember Ed Hildreth was absent. Mayor Pete Kmet said Hildreth told him he would vote against it. There is no provision in Tumwater rules that allow voting by correspondence or proxy. A telephone vote requires full capacity to hear the meeting, so Hildreth’s opinion was not counted.

Under Tumwater’s type of council structure, the mayor does not vote. Mayor Kmet said that nothing we do is without risk and if he could vote, he would vote yes.

Staff said the structure could ultimately be a museum, brew pub, offices, or an outlook, depending on the adjacent activities in the other buildings that are currently owned by Falls Development LLC.

Calling the finer points in the letter of agreement with Falls Development “incentives,” the letter of agreement is seen by some as a giveaway to Heidgerken and his company. The agreement offers Heidgerken the right of first refusal for the actual use of the building.

Heidgerken has owned the property for several years. To help move him along, the letter of agreement says the city will negotiate future agreements to share proportionate costs of construction for the utilities and access road necessary to rehabilitate the Old Brewhouse.

It is also offering to reward him with one million dollars for infrastructure improvements if he files a complete building permit application for the warehouse building by January 1, 2019 and obtains a certificate of occupancy by January 1, 2021.

During public comment, Donovan Cathey spoke, saying he grew up in Olympia. His father and grandfather retired from the Brewery.

He said he wanted to see the tower stay but urged the council not to make a decision that evening, expressing concerns that partnerships may not pan out. He said the agreement was full of contradictions and inconsistencies. 

“…Reconsider transferring liability from the owner to the city. Is it really the city’s responsibility to take on that liability? If the private sector thought it should be done, they would have….”

Cathey said he represents the Tumwater firefighters union and a higher city priority is making repairs to two fire stations.

Rob Kirkwood, president of the Old Brewhouse Foundation, says the process to obtain the tower has been a rollercoaster ride.

“Today it feels like we’re on top,” he said. He said the city is making progress, and while the Foundation supports Tumwater acquiring the tower, it has concerns.

Describing the area’s history and use for thousands of years, he said the area deserves a high level of protection beyond what maximizing the return on financial investment can provide. He called upon the council to sign the agreement and form an interjurisdictional group to finance and manage the facility.

Kirkwood said the Foundation has been recruiting volunteers and has received offers for donated crane services from Snell Crane, engineering services from McSquared, and possibly window restoration work.

Several spoke to the environmental assets of the property which will be ruined if Heidgerken gets his way and is able to build a 1,000 vehicle parking garage into the hillside behind the brewery.

Gretchen Christopher Matzen says she grew up on Governor Stevens Avenue and learned to swim in the Deschutes River near the brewery. She said the brewery needs the backing of the trees, and called the view breathtaking. She questioned the lack of details in the agreement and suspects that Heidgerken will take advantage of the city’s preservation of the iconic tower to promote his own development.

“I’m wondering why the developer couldn’t afford to preserve it himself,” she said.

Heidgerken was not present at the hearing.

Jon Potter, representing Falls Development, said that the property was not purchased with the idea that this was a business opportunity. He says Heidgerken lives in Chehalis and is on site every day and that a developer, and characterizing Heidgerken as one, is a misnomer.

“If you can’t have the lending industries support your ideas, your vision, you can’t develop…The property has to pencil out….Lending institutions need to see how they are going to get paid back by lending money for a project…obviously, we can’t demonstrate that today….”

He said that a public-private partnership would create a joint vision to restore the historic complex to its original grandeur. He painted a pretty picture: 

“…That’s the vision of George Heidgerken…that’s the goal… and it’s a tremendous tribute to what the city has done....There’s an opportunity to represent the entire craft brewing industry… in the State of Washington. And through the city’s efforts, the opportunity is to create a craft brewing center....The tower is emblematic of that effort. It is the cornerstone for that to happen. So there's an opportunity to go beyond just the restoration....It's much bigger than just the City of Tumwater, more than the region. It's a statewide initiative,” said Potter.

At that point, Councilmember Oliva jumped in, asking if Heidgerken is willing to be the host of a craft brewing and distilling center.

“That was something I had not heard before,” said Oliva.

“Absolutely. Anything that can be done to support the funding that is absolutely necessary to restore the structure is on the table....Wouldn’t it be neat if you could put those buildings back into use for what they were originally designed for? Then you’d have national recognition,” said Potter. 

Judging by the clucking in the audience, maybe that was going too far.

After all, at one point in the hearing, Heidi Behrends Cerniway said she was out at the property just that day.

“It is still salvageable, but it won’t be like that forever. From last year, it’s changed significantly.”

For more photos and information about the  Old Brewhouse, Tumwater, George Heidgerken, the stop work order, groundwater monitoring, and the proposed planned action for the property, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words in the search engine.

For more information from the City of Tumwater, go to their website at

Above: A new window of opportunity has been opened for the Old Brewhouse Tower. Photo taken October 2014.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016

Above: Red Tulip with Dew Star, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

By Janine Gates

You’ll never look at tulips the same way again after you go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. In fact, I’m sure I’ll be dreaming of tulips for nights to come. 

The self-paced driving tour goes on all month long, but as the brochure says, bloom dates are according to Mother Nature! 

So many happy faces and families in one place made this field trip one to remember...until next year!

Inside tip for everyone, especially photographers: arrive early in the fields to catch the morning dew and you’ll also avoid traffic and crowds. 

Go to for all the information you need. 

Above: Which is your favorite color? You'll have hundreds of acres to choose from!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Capital Mall Goes Green with Trail Project

Above: Kevin Johnston, general manager for Capital Mall in Olympia, Washington. Johnston and his executive team brainstormed a concept to create an eco-friendly, one mile trail with public amenities on mall property, along with other safety improvements. They entered the idea into a contest for national mall managers, and won $350,000 from corporate executives for their innovative idea.

Mall Makeover Could Increase City's Bottom Line

By Janine Gates

If you don’t go to the mall on Olympia’s westside, maybe now you will.

That’s the hope of Capital Mall general manager Kevin Johnston, who is creatively embarking on a one mile, multi-purpose trail project that will encircle the 65 acre mall property.

Johnston and his executive team recently brainstormed the idea and entered it into a “Shark Tank” type contest for national mall managers. With a catchy presentation and a homemade video about the project using a drone that flies over the proposed path of the trail, they beat out several other proposals, and won over the judges. 

Their innovative thinking earned them $350,000 from corporate executives toward construction of the project.

“....We thought, ‘Let's do something Olympia-ish. We jogged into the presentation and wore T-shirts that said Capital Trail on them,” Johnston laughed.

The project will improve and increase public access to and from the mall property by providing much needed walking paths from the surrounding city sidewalks. Six motion-activated, signaled crosswalks will be installed at each major traffic entrance and in busy areas.

Even as Johnston gave Little Hollywood a tour of the property in near 70 degree sunny weather on Thursday, pedestrians were seen bushwhacking through the green belt from city sidewalks to access the mall property, walking around traffic to enter the main building.

The trail is proposed to be made pervious, with recycled, rubberized mulch, and will include benches made with recycled wood and metal, pet sanitation stations, picnic tables and stretching/pull-up areas. It will connect to existing sidewalks and new walkways that will be constructed to create a continuous loop.

People will be welcome to relax and rest, or eat lunch in currently underutilized grassy areas by Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse and Bar in the southwest corner of the property and 24 Hour Fitness in the northeast area of the property. The path will be in range of free Wi-Fi service from the mall. 

“It can be used for walking, jogging, exercising, and pets are welcome. It will be eco-friendly at every turn, constructed using recycled material wherever possible and include solar power lighting,” said Johnston, bursting with enthusiasm.

The trail will also be accessible in the evening. Asked about security, Johnston said the entire trail will be lit with lights low to the path, and mall security personnel drive around multiple times throughout the property, day and night.

In an outlying area called the Promenade, a ramp will be built to connect businesses such as TJ Maxx, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ann Taylor Loft, Chico’s, and the locally owned Artist’s Gallery, to the main mall.

Johnston says no trees will be cut down for the project. A wetland near 24 Hour Fitness will be protected.

Capital Mall management already hosts about 120 or so morning walkers per day who walk or stroll through the mall before shops open. Members of the popular ritual, seniors and others looking for a safe place to walk, have long asked for an outdoor trail.

The economic benefits of the trail for the mall and the city could be significant.

“We project that we can bring at least, or more than, 100 extra people per day to the property by creating better access and providing a place for people to spend time exercising, jogging, and walking. If we convert 30 percent of them to customers, we can add an additional one million in sales per year. This will translate through to an increased tax revenue for the city,” said Johnston. He estimates that the amount to the city could be about $125,000 per year.

Johnston says he is looking forward to meeting with City of Olympia public works and parks, arts and recreation staff in April to see how access to city sidewalks can tie in with Yauger Park and the McLane trail system.

He has met with Renee Sunde, the city’s economic development director, who has already briefed councilmembers about the project at a meeting of the Community Economic Revitalization Committee. Sunde is excited about the project and sees it as a win for everyone.

To see how they can all partner together, Johnston is also looking forward to meeting with the West Olympia Business Association in a few weeks and local service clubs like Rotary and Kiwanis. 

To raise more money for the project, sponsorship opportunities will be available for extra public amenities such as benches and trail markers.

“There’s a lot of potential to expand this idea,” said Johnston, who says he expects to speak to a council subcommittee in late April. He hopes to begin breaking ground soon, while the weather is favorable.

Above: Overall Capital Mall site improvements are being planned. This intersection on Capital Mall property is one area that will be improved with a new pedestrian walkway made of stamped concrete, colored concrete, or a combination of concrete and tile or pavers.

Capital Mall Facts and Future

Indoor malls were in their prime in the 1960s and 1970s. Built in 1966, South Sound Mall in Lacey, the area now anchored by Sears, Target and Kohl’s near Pacific Avenue and Sleater Kinney Road, was the Northwest's first indoor mall.

Times have changed, and malls across the country struggle to survive. Online retail options and other factors have dramatically changed consumer shopping habits, leaving brick and mortar stores to creatively adapt, or fail. 

Built in 1978, Capital Mall is centered on Olympia’s westside, bordered by Cooper Point Road, Black Lake Boulevard, and Capital Mall Drive, near the interchange of U.S. Highway 101 and I-5.  

At just over 789,000 square feet, it’s currently comprised of 112 stores and just over 3,500 parking spaces.

The mall currently has 4,000-5,000 visitors on an average day, and is poised for more growth as it caters to an affluent shopper. With an expanding economy and workforce in Thurston County, the mall is well-positioned to capture its share of the growth.

The property has seen some renovations and expansions, particularly in 2002-03 with the addition of the 14 screen Century Theatre multiplex, and the additional parcels added in 2003 called the Promenade.

The mall was quietly bought by Starwood Capital Group from Westfield in November 2014. Starwood Capital Group, a subsidiary of Starwood Hotel and Resorts, focuses on community centers.

Johnston, who has lived in west Olympia since 2002, was hired by Westfield about six months before the sale to Starwood. The company did not rebrand itself as a Starwood property, instead preferring to keep a lower profile, and emphasize a local flavor.

Miss Moffett's Mystical Cupcakes, a local business famous for their appearance on the television show “Cupcake Wars,” is happy to be at the mall, and just signed a long term lease, said Johnston.

“Our mission is to identify with the local community. We didn’t want to rebrand as a Starwood property. The Westfield corporate brand was a turn on or a turn off, depending on what side of the argument you’re on, but we found an overwhelmingly positive response when we took the big ‘W’ signs down. We wanted to go back to what the mall used to be in the day when it was just called Capital Mall,” explained Johnston.

Anchored by JC Penney, Macy’s, Best Buy, REI, Total Wine & More, Old Navy, and Century Theatre, the space is 94 percent occupied, ranking second highest in occupancy for the Starwood chain of 29 community centers.

The mall is currently receiving a B minus grade by the International Council of Shopping Centers, a group that grades retail malls. The grade is based on the amount of sales per square foot.

While the mall’s sales are proprietary, Johnston says he needs to increase sales about $10 - $20 per square foot to improve the mall’s grade. The trail idea was one way to improve its grade, and Johnston is open to more ideas. 

To improve the mall’s bottom line, Johnston is looking forward to the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods, currently under construction. Future projects include adding an exterior restaurant and the possible relocation and revitalization of the existing food court. He has plans to install LED lighting in the parking lots, which will save the mall about $50,000 in energy bills.

“This team thinks a lot about community. It’s good for Capital Mall to be recognized as part of the community rather than a corporate brand, you know what I’m saying? So it benefits us because we live in the community and it also benefits us, obviously, because it’s going to help the popularity and profitability of Capital Mall. It’s a win-win….” said Johnston.

Above: Standing on an underutilized greenbelt around the perimeter of the mall’s 65 acre property near Forever 21, REI, and Red Robin, Capital Mall general manager Kevin Johnston motions toward Yauger Park on Cooper Point Road. Johnson envisions a possible trail connection from the mall property to the park and a larger network of trails. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tumwater Old Brewery Public Hearings: Tower Acquisition and Land Use Actions

Above: A picture from the Washington State Archives of the Old Brewery in the early 1900s. Budd Inlet and the Deschutes River, seen here, was tidal, before the creation of Capitol Lake and the dam in downtown Olympia. Ships came to the Old Brewery, offloaded grains and supplies to businesses, and brought products to market.

Former Olympia Brewing Company brewmaster and brewhouse historian Paul Knight was asked to describe the scene: “The picture is from mid-1906 before it was complete for brewing. Later in ‘06 the bridge was built over the water way.  The picture does not show the brewery support system but shows the pilings supporting the wharf in front of the building. It shows the brackish water surrounding the structure indicating high tide. The river did run between the wharf and the roadway in the foreground but with the tide out it would be a channel in the middle. The brewery building was built on large stone and concrete pier blocks that extend down to bedrock...the whole area was eventually built up with fill.”

By Janine Gates

Two separate public hearings regarding the Old Brewhouse in Tumwater will be held by Tumwater city council in April. 

Both meetings are at 7:00 p.m. meetings in the Tumwater council chambers at 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater.

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 5, regarding the possible acquisition of the six story, 110 year old tower that is the symbol of Tumwater.

The city council could take action following the hearing, which would authorize the mayor to sign the agreement.

A 14 point draft letter of agreement between the city and Falls Development LLC is available on the City of Tumwater:

The property is owned by Falls Development LLC. It was recently revealed during a public meeting by the property's owner, developer George Heidgerken, that he may donate the tower to the city.

Among other points, the letter states that Falls Development will deliver to the city statutory warranty deeds on or before April 30 that creates a separate land parcel which includes the Old Brewhouse and necessary easements for site access and utilities, and a public trail and boardwalk.

The city and Falls Development will negotiate future agreements to share proportionate costs of construction for the utilities and access road necessary to rehabilitate the Old Brewhouse.

The city will reimburse Falls Development one million dollars for infrastructure improvements if Falls Development files a complete building permit application by January 1, 2019 and obtains a certificate of occupancy of the Warehouse Building by January 1, 2021. This payment will be credited against the city’s proportionate costs.

The letter also states that the city will explore funding options for future construction of a pedestrian bridge that extends from the property to the Tumwater Historical Park and agrees to work with Falls Development in a future agreement for access to public restrooms at the project site.

The acquisition commits the city to rehabilitation of the Old Brewhouse structure with an estimated cost of $5.6 million dollars for full use.

Potential sources of funding include grants through various state programs, private donations, and tax credits. Operations and maintenance would be additional.

The Old Brewhouse is a historic landmark, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The structure has been on a “watch list” by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

Planned Action Land Use Hearing

There will be a separate public hearing on Tuesday, April 19 on the proposed Planned Action land use ordinance, which impacts the 32 acre area around the Old Brewhouse, also owned by Heidgerken and his companies.

For more information, go to the City of Tumwater website at or contact Heidi Behrends-Cerniwey, Assistant City Administrator/Brewery Project Manager at (360) 754-4128 or e-mail at

For more photos and information about the proposed planned action for the historic property and the city’s negotiations with Heidgerken to obtain the Old Brewhouse tower, former brewmaster Paul Knight, and more about the Old Brewery, go to Little Hollywood, and type key words into the search button.

Editor's Correction, April 2: No, that wasn't meant to be an April Fools joke. The original article posted on April 1 said that the acquisition includes the tower and several other structures on the property. That was incorrect. The acquisition is just for the Old Brewhouse tower building. Little Hollywood strives for accuracy and greatly appreciates the interest of sharp eyed readers who know how to read complicated documents.

Above:  A mostly roofless and windowless Old Brewhouse is drenched in rain on March 14, 2016. Photo taken from the edge of the Deschutes River, in a very soggy Tumwater Historical Park.