Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tumwater Now Owns Old Brewhouse Tower

Above: The City of Tumwater acquired the historic Old Brewhouse tower from owner George Heidgerken and his development company, Falls Development LLC, on April 29. Photo of the tower taken in October 2014.

By Janine Gates

Blow the whistle for all to hear! The City of Tumwater, at long last, now owns its historic, 110 year old Brewhouse tower.

City of Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet announced at Tuesday evening’s council meeting that he met with Old Brewhouse owner George Heidgerken on Friday, April 29, who signed a letter of agreement, thus turning the tower over to the city. 

At a February 16 public hearing about a proposed planned action land use ordinance, Heidgerken suggested the possibility of donating the tower to the city. 

A 14 point letter of agreement was drafted, creating a separate land parcel which includes the Old Brewhouse and necessary easements for site access and utilities, and a public trail and boardwalk. Other points of the letter provide economic incentives for Heidgerken to get to work on the rest of the brewery property. 

The Old Brewhouse is a historic landmark, and was 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.

Kmet thanked staff for their hard work in sealing the deal, calling the actual signing of the paperwork a bit “anti-climactic.”

Kmet said that arrangements have already been made for the tower’s security and insurance. City staff are in the process of applying for a state grant for the tower’s restoration and working to identify other prospective funding options.

“I think it will go down as a memorable and historic moment, having the building now in public hands….We’re obviously going to need help from the community…to start a capital campaign to restore the tower,” said Kmet.

The acquisition committed the city to rehabilitation of the structure which is estimated to cost about $5.6 million.

Also at the meeting, council passed the final version of a Brewery Action Plan. Councilmembers last looked at it in June 2014, and recently added two new sections that include the Old Brewhouse tower and the efforts around the creation of a multi-faceted regional craft brewing and distilling center.

The last whistle blew at the modern brewery in 2003. Ever since, redevelopment of the brewery properties has been a city priority.  As part of a visioning process, the city hired a brewery project manager, assistant city administrator Heidi Behrends Cerniwey, to foster economic development and partnerships. 

Recent ownership changes of the modern brewery south of Custer Way, the passage by council late last month of a master plan for the 32 acre historic site north of Custer Way, and the acquisition of the Old Brewhouse tower all indicate that Tumwater could be on the verge of change.  

“…Everything seems to be incremental…the additions and accomplishments give me goosebumps because we’re doing good stuff. We have a very bright future,” said Councilmember Nicole Hill.

For more information about the Brewery Action Plan, the Old Brewhouse and the terms of the letter of agreement, the Planned Action for the historic property owned by George Heidgerken, groundwater monitoring, and other Tumwater land use and transportation issues related to the brewery, go to www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com and type key words into the search button.

Above: Inside the Old Brewhouse tower, looking from the third floor down to the second floor and the first floor. Photo taken in October 2014.