Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tumwater Issues Stop Work Order on Development at Old Brewhouse

Above: Construction equipment and maintenance debris seen around the Old Brewhouse building in Tumwater on October 8 and October 18 indicated a dramatic difference in recent road construction and water diversion efforts. Multiple areas with black tubing were seen in place, diverting water which was streaming from a nearby hillside. The hillside contains at least nine artesian springs.

By Janine Unsoeld

The City of Tumwater has issued a stop work order to Old Brewhouse developer George Heidgerken and Falls Development, LLC.
In a voicemail yesterday, Chris Carlson, permit manager for the City of Tumwater, said, “We have issued a stop work order to the property owner down there, and he’s basically graded without a permit, and he has also filled a portion of a Category 3 wetland, a slope wetland, on the south side of the access road…the site is under stop work.

“We have contacted Alex Callender, over at the shoreline section of the Department of Ecology, letting him know where we’re at with this. The lead official right now is in the process of actually issuing the notice of violation….”
Carlson also said that the city will be setting up a meeting with both Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers in the next couple of days to discuss what each agency’s course of action will be.

“We’re working on a solution to try and get the project in compliance,” he said.

Above: Excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.

Stop Work Order Details

City of Tumwater building official John Darnell visited the site this week after receiving a complaint that grading and filling work was being conducted on the south side of the building. Darnell confirmed that this work was being done without permits required under several Tumwater city codes including grading, wetland protection standards, and fish and wildlife habitat protection.

The stop work order, dated October 28, also requires that a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) be in place.

“With the exception of immediate erosion control measures, the Stop Work Order will remain in place until all plans, mitigations and approvals have been completed....You are required to submit a SWPPP plan designed and stamped by a licensed professional engineer to mitigate the potential erosion and stabilize the disturbed area....You also need to prepare a report/plan prepared by a licensed wetland biologist and civil engineer showing how the wetland and habitat area will be mitigated. Once we have the report and plan we will schedule a meeting with you and the agencies involved to determine if the mitigation is acceptable....” said Darnell. 

Citizen Complaints

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 determined that this redevelopment is likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. Three land use scenarios for the site was identified by the city and the public comment for these scenarios was due to Tim Smith on October 20.
As a private citizen, this reporter requested a stop work order at the Old Brewhouse site after she witnessed, on two occasions, extensive construction being done at the site.

She was taken on two tours of the property, one led by Tim Smith, planning manager at the City of Tumwater on October 8, and one led by the Old Brewhouse Foundation on October 18. On both tours, it was apparent that significant road construction and water diversion work was being done at the site. Other citizens were also on both tours.

The letter dated October 20 by Janine Unsoeld was written and submitted in a timely manner as a public comment and says, in part:
“I request that the public comment deadline for TUM-14-0741 be extended to allow the public more time to research the three land use alternatives. I request a stop-work order on all activities on the property until these roles, and all environmental considerations under WAC 197-11-444 are better understood by all concerned parties.”

City of Tumwater Response

On October 22, Smith sent Unsoeld an email, saying, in part:
“City staff will continue to work with the landowner regarding ongoing maintenance work onsite. Any site work that requires a permit will be enforced by staff.”

On October 23, Little Hollywood emailed several staff members in charge of wetland and shoreline permits at the state Department of Ecology, including Callender, and the state department of Fish and Wildlife expressing concerns.
Little Hollywood also sent them a particularly disturbing picture and described the scene:

“…Water is flowing directly from the hillside (I've been told there are nine artesian springs there) into the moat, and going under the building and presumably, going somewhere, most likely the nearby wetlands and into the Deschutes River. The old metal pipes are being dug up at the base of the hillside, which I saw in place, in disarray. The big black tubes are replacements, it appears. There are new trenches and a road being built.
“….Can you clarify for me the role of when Ecology and Fish and Wildlife may get involved, and wetland and shoreline issues will be monitored with regard to this property? I am concerned about possible conflicts of interest at the City of Tumwater….”

Above: Another view of the excavation, road grading, and drain pipes as seen on the south side of the Old Brewhouse building on October 18, 2014.
Falls Development Response to Stop Work Order
Jon  Potter, Old Brewhouse project manager for Falls Development, LLC, was reached late this afternoon by telephone and asked about the stop work order.
“It shouldn’t have happened…it wasn’t intentional…it was ignorance. We dropped the ball on two things: the wetland, and not keeping people apprised of what was going on….” said Potter.
According to Potter, a paint shop used to exist next to the old keg house between the existing road and the building. When Heidgerken bought the property, he could have gone after Miller Brewing Company to clean it up, but since they were in negotiations with Miller to lift the brewing deed restriction, Heidgerken decided to pick his battles and do the environmental clean-up himself.
The deed restriction was lifted, and under a voluntary cleanup agreement with the state Department of Ecology, Falls Development excavated the area and handled dumpage fees for the contaminated soil. Potter said this cost developer George Heidgerken about $70,000. The excavation created a large hole where groundwater monitoring wells are expected to be placed. Since the hole was so big, it was necessary to bring in rock so that the monitoring wells could be placed.
“….As part of that effort, drainage pipes were draining into that hole. George went back in and removed pipes on the other side….What should have happened, and didn’t happen on our part, is say, ‘Listen, this backfilling is bigger than anticipated.’ He didn’t go through the proper channels to remove the pipes….I’m angry with, but sympathetic with George that he tried to take the pipes out, but not in the right way. He felt like he was doing the right thing….”
Potter said AEG Engineering in Olympia is their consultant who developed their remediation plan and said they didn’t need a grading permit.
“It’s got to be done the right way and I am furious to put city staff in the position they are in….This is truly a public-private partnership and for us to screw up like that was not good. I can’t say it any other way….” said Potter.
Potter said that their staff and the city’s staff will look at the issue to come up with a proposal regarding the wetland encroachment, which will determine the project’s future schedule.
“When it’s all said and done, it’ll be spectacular….” said Potter.
Above: Old Brewhouse Tower reflected in a puddle on October 18, 2014.
For more information, go to Little Hollywood at, and see articles dated October 12, “Tumwater Seeks Public Comment on Old Brewery Proposed Development,” and October 16,“Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interfaith Emergency Shelter Set To Open November 1

Above: Meg Martin works in the new office of the Interfaith Emergency Overnight Shelter this past weekend. New beds are stacked in the foreground.

By Janine Unsoeld

The Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter is set to open November 1 at First Christian Church in downtown Olympia with space and beds for 30 men and women.

City of Olympia Hearing Examiner Mark Scheibmeir presided at a public hearing held Monday night to decide on a conditional use permit proposal to use the church’s basement to expand the shelter capacity from 30 beds to 42 beds.
The basement had previously been used by the Family Support Center, which recently moved to the Smith Building, located on Olympia’s eastside. The current permit expires in January of 2015. The church had also been the location for Camp Quixote, the temporary homeless camp, that has since moved to Quixote Village.
City planner Steve Friddle represented the city and provided the staff report recommending that the shelter be permitted for 42 beds. Hearing Examiner Scheibmeir stated at the outset that he did a site visit, walked through the property and neighborhood, and disagreed with the city's interpretation of the code.
Friddle admitted that the Olympia municipal code regarding group homes, residential and commercial standards and uses was confusing, and that the city recommended the 42 bed shelter based on state fire and building codes.
Scheibmeir said that it's not his job to defend the city's land use policies, but he calculated the capacity of the space to allow 37 beds, and he did not make that calculation lightly, knowing its draconian ramifications.”
The hearing examiner took Danny Kadden, executive director of Interfaith Works, and Meg Martin, Interfaith Shelter Program Manager, to task for not documenting the specifics of how the facility would be used. Both provided new information and details about the facility that had not previously been provided to the hearing examiner.
I don't care about rules about pets, or where people store their belongings...but the hours of operation and the way a facility is used, and a number of other aspects of the plan are essential...Those are critical for me to know....What I would like is for the applicant to examine their plan relevant to the basic issues...and develop a clear understanding...of what will be expected.”
Several people offered testimony in support and against the permit.
Brenda Hatcher of First Christian Church spoke in support of the group's permit, saying it was a unanimous decision by the congregation to host the shelter, saying it feels strongly that human beings deserve a place to be. Speaking in support of Interfaith Works, she said the organization has a good record of doing what they promise.
They've been partners with us for years and have an ongoing reputation for being compassionate...and provide for people,” she said.
Don Sloma, Thurston County's director of public health services, also spoke in support of the shelter's application, as did Theresa Slusher, the county's homeless services coordinator. 
In 2013, the shelter received a conditional award of $400,000 by a multi-jurisdictional housing consortium based on Interfaith Works’ ability to work with the City of Olympia and local advocates to identify an acceptable site for the project and obtain required permits.
Theresa Sparber, a 63 year old who is homeless, also spoke in support of the shelter. She said she has a history of strokes, COPD, and heart attacks, and that maneuvering at night on slick streets has caused her to have multiple falls.
I can't wait for the shelter to open, to rejuvenate my body, to get rest. Believe me, by 5 o'clock, we're ready to hit the sack. A friend of mine is 73 and she's in different bushes. There's so many of us displaced women who are lost out there and it's a place we never thought we'd be. (The shelter) is a great effort on everyone's part - it gives us hope,” said Sparber. 
Jim Haley, President and CEO of Thurston First Bank spoke against the permit. He said the bank relocated to 600 Franklin Street, one block away from the proposed shelter as part of an effort to revitalize downtown. Citing multiple concerns, Haley said he didn't see anything about the shelter that benefits the neighborhood. He said he wasn't against the homeless, but it's business that creates tax revenue so we can better help the homeless.”

The hearing lasted about two hours, and Scheibmeir held the record open until the end of the week for additional information to be submitted by the applicants and others who wish to submit materials. He said he hoped to make a decision within 10 days from the following Monday.
I envision approving this (permit) but I'm not sure in what fashion....Two groups deserve certainty: the population who would benefit from its use, and those affected, such as businesses and residents...neither trumps the other, both deserve to be recognized....” said Scheibmeir.
Shelter Gets Ready To Open
The task of locating a shelter formerly known as The People’s House has proved difficult in terms of finding a suitable location. 
Staff and volunteers were working hard this past weekend to get the space at First Christian Church ready.

Meg Martin, Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter program director, took time to explain the goals for the space.
Changing the emphasis to housing a pre-screened clientele will aim to the serve the most vulnerable adult homeless individuals over the age of 24 who are not generally violent offenders,” said Martin. 
Although a daytime warming and activity shelter is badly needed in the community, this shelter will not serve that purpose.

Using a lengthy questionnaire, street outreach workers assessed the needs and vulnerability of over 135 people in the last month. To fill the shelter beds, staff will attempt to locate 30 of those people who received the highest score in terms of vulnerability, and prioritize the beds for those who need it most.
“With the (previous) first-come, first-served model, we would have filled up immediately. Women and those with severe mental illness wouldn’t have gotten in,” she said about the new intake strategy.

Martin explained that each person will have a bed designated for them unless they miss three consecutive evenings without telling staff a reason for their absence. Lockers will be available for their belongings, and pets are allowed in kennels next to their person. Martin says this has been allowed in the past with no problems.
“We never want to have an empty bed...This effort has a much broader vision for placing people in permanent supportive housing. If we can expand, we’ll save a huge amount of community resources,” Martin said. Members of the homeless population tend to have more contact with police, and have a higher use of emergency room services than the general population.

Check in time at the shelter starts at 5:00 p.m. for women, and 7:00 p.m. for men. Everyone needs to be checked in by 9:00 p.m. and leave in the morning by 7 a.m. Guests will need to sign a personal conduct agreement and “good neighbor” policy form. If a guest’s behavior prevents their fulfilling the shelter agreements, they will be directed by staff to leave.
According to the proposal submitted to the city in September, the shelter will not house Level 2 and 3 sex offenders. While staff will not automatically conduct criminal background checks, staff reserve the right to do so at any time on any guest staying at the shelter. The shelter will serve all genders and couples. The space is already sub-divided in a way that allows separate sleeping areas and bathroom access.

Two professional, trained staff will be on site at all times. Shelter staff will be supported by three or four trained volunteers during a portion of the evening hours.
In addition, SideWalk, a homeless advocacy program, will work with guests on rapid-rehousing advocacy, and Behavioral Health Resources staff will be available for mental health support.

Full meals will not be provided, as those services are available at the Union Gospel Mission and Salvation Army.
“We’re open to more partnerships – some are in the works, and some we’re still figuring out,” said Martin, who also said that more volunteers are needed. 

It was that lack of clarity that concerned city Hearing Examiner Scheibmeir at Monday night's hearing.

Shelter Capacity Projections and Community Needs

Currently, the proposed 42 shelter beds at First Christian Church will be split - 22 for men and 20 for women. In addition, Sacred Heart Church in Lacey and St. Michael’s Church on Olympia’s eastside will operate a 12 bed shelter for men, as they have in previous years. This year, they will shelter the next 12 men on the Interfaith shelter’s screened list.

In her testimony, Theresa Slusher calculated a net gain of 10 beds for both men and women combined but it is also worth noting that the women are taking a net loss.

The shelter beds for women in the community are limited to Salvation Army and the Interfaith Shelter.

Bread and Roses, a non-profit inspired by the Catholic Worker movement and dedicated to serving the homeless, recently announced that they will no longer shelter homeless women.
For more information about the Interfaith Works Emergency Shelter, contact Meg Martin at or

For more information about Interfaith Works, go to
Above: Fresh beds at First Christian Church wait to be placed in rooms for men and women.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Developer Heidgerken Shares Old Brewery Vision

Above: For the first time, Old Brewery owner George Heidgerken meets Peter G. Schmidt Jr., 92, today after Heidgerken’s presentation. Schmidt was born in the Schmidt House and is the grandson of Leopold F. Schmidt, who built the Old Brewery in 1895.

“I’d like to see you succeed, but it’s going to be rugged,” Schmidt told Heidgerken.  Schmidt shared stories about growing up near the brewery.

“When Olympia beer first hit Seattle, my god, they just couldn’t ship it fast enough….Every year, production doubled in size….” said Schmidt.

By Janine Unsoeld

It was a full house at the historic Schmidt House today in Tumwater as community members came to hear George Heidgerken speak about his vision for redeveloping the Old Brewery property. His Falls Development LLC project manager, Jon Potter, joined him. A slideshow chronicled the Old Brewery’s history from 1906 to the present.
Heidgerken joked that while doing research for the purchase years ago, he found out why no one bought it, saying it would easily cost half a billion dollars to renovate. The more he found out about its legacy, however, the more intrigued he became with the possibilities. Heidgerken owns about 35 acres of the area on both sides of the Deschutes River, including 11 acres of water.

“It’s a real treasure….To restore the buildings, we have the original plans and photos to be authentic….From an economic standpoint, it’s something of a leap of faith…the road, access, utilities, everything’s different (now).”
Admitting that nothing at the site meets current codes, Heidgerken said that despite the challenges, it’s a remarkable opportunity. The hillside, he says, hasn’t been maintained in decades and said a parking garage would provide needed parking and stabilization. Groundwater monitoring wells will be installed soon.

“This is a big deal for Tumwater and the county…it’s a unique facility…it’s time that somebody does this stuff.”
The City of Tumwater has determined that redevelopment of the property will have an adverse impact on the environment and is seeking public comment on the scope of an environmental impact statement for the site.

The deadline is Monday, October 20, by 5:00 p.m. Comments on the three land use alternatives identified for the site may be directed to: Tim Smith, AICP, City of Tumwater Planning Manager, 555 Israel Road SW, Tumwater, WA 98501; or (360) 754-4212.
Heidgerken says he doesn’t know where the process will end up, but there is interest in the property from restaurants, educational institutions and hoteliers. He says the site has the potential of being a nationally known destination, like Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, and can serve as a catalyst for other development.

Above: The Old Brewery as seen on October 8, 2014 during a tour of the Tumwater property near the Deschutes River.

Frequent murmurs of approval were heard while Heidgerken gave his presentation, and someone in the audience remarked, “It's about time.”
Heidgerken says he has spent $1 million cleaning up the property and $3 million in remodeling efforts. He cited the project’s possible benefits such as future public access to trails and the water, including the outer edge of South Capitol Lake, a craft brewing and distilling center with interest from local educational institutions, dorms for students and residential apartments or condominiums for longer term residents, space for art and antique shows, concerts in the park, and more.
Asked about the timeline of the project, Heidgerken said that the permit process dictates the pace. “It may look like we’re not doing anything on the outside, but on the inside, we’re busy….” He stressed his commitment to the project, and mentioned similar projects he is involved with are thriving.

 “I own three sites on water, all historical, and this is in the category of ‘the right thing’…. This is a high priority – I’m well-funded to do it.”
Potter said that Heidgerken owns the property outright and is under no interest rate pressure to rush things. Heidgerken said he and Potter have a 10 – 15 year relationship of working together and want to do it the right way. Both welcomed public input into the visioning process.

He said his Oregon City, all-waterfront project, the site of the former Blue Heron Paper Company, with 25-30 acres at the end of the Oregon Trail, has attracted national attention.
“For 152 years, there’s been no public access to the (Willamette) Falls…they jumped on it….” he said.

Heidgerken also mentioned success with his ownership of a 70 acre, water strategic piece of the Chambers Bay golf course near Tacoma.
Above: A drawing by Falls Development LLC depicts a remodel of the building at 240 Custer Way, also known as the RST Cellars Building, flanked by housing that could either be dorms for students or apartments, depending on market interest and economic considerations.

Some members of the public stuck around to look at drawings of the proposed redevelopment up close.

Rob Kirkwood, a founding member of the Old Brewhouse Foundation attended the presentation, and said he didn’t know about Tumwater’s citizen comment deadline of October 20 until someone referred him to the Little Hollywood article published on Sunday, October 12.
“I knew a deadline was coming up but I didn’t know when until I was referred to your article….We need more time to comment….it’s a regional asset, a regional responsibility. We need to ensure public access. It could be a county museum, like a Museum of South Sound History, Industry and Art,” said Kirkwood.

The Old Brewhouse Foundation is having its annual meeting on Saturday, October 18, at Timberland Tumwater Library, 7023 New Market Street. The meeting is open to the public and new Foundation members are always welcome, said Kirkwood. A tour of the Old Brewery for Foundation members starts at 3:30 p.m.
Longtime Tumwater resident Nancy Partlow was already aware of the October 20 public comment deadline and will be submitting formal comments to the city.

 “I’ve done some research about the 625 or 1,000 stall parking garage proposals in Alternatives 2 and 3. Just for comparison, the Tumwater Walmart has 730 parking stalls,” says Partlow.   
“The historic brewhouse site is the last place in Tumwater that a hotel and parking garage should be built. The Deschutes Estuary below the lower falls is Tumwater's most important natural area. Its biological diversity is unmatched within the city. 

“Many environmentally destructive things have been done to the Deschutes River and floodplain over the last 100-plus years, starting with the old brewhouse complex, which would never be allowed to be built where it is today. Permitting high-intensity commercial redevelopment of the site, accessible by car from either an on-site parking garage or down the narrow road that runs adjacent to the fence line of Tumwater Falls Park, is a bad idea,” says Partlow.
Audience member Pat Rasmussen stayed after the presentation to speak with Heidgerken about the Native American history of the area. Rasmussen has extensively researched the presence of the Steh-chass Indians and has compiled a sourced paper about the Nisqually tribe. Heidgerken listened, and welcomed her input.

Asked for her thoughts about the redevelopment proposal, Rasmussen said, “The old brewery and Tumwater Historical Park are located on an ancient permanent village site inhabited for thousands of years by the Steh-chass Indians. This site is far too sensitive for the scale of development proposed. The steep slopes behind the brewery are only held in place by the trees….Removing them for development could cause a landslide. The narrow road into the brewery has a steep drop-off to the river below. Any work on that road could cause a landslide directly into the Deschutes River,” said Rasmussen.

Above: A Falls Development LLC conceptual drawing for the Old Brewery area features housing along the railroad, a two lane road access, a parking garage, boardwalk, and more.

In a telephone interview late last week with John Doan, City of Tumwater’s executive administrator, Doan described to Little Hollywood the challenges of the Brewery District and redevelopment plans:

“….There’s community frustration and it’s not getting any easier with time. … People were proud about the brewery – it was an attraction. In the 60’s and 70s, about 900 people worked for the (new) brewery, and most lived no more than a quarter of a mile or half a mile away. Many walked to work or took the trolley. You didn’t have to find parking for 900 people….There’s a challenge of remodeling old buildings to fit today’s world. It’s a balance, and it’s complicated in the sense that there’s a lot of moving parts….”

Asked about the scope of the letter of mutual partnership signed by various entities to create a craft brewery and distilling center, Doan said not to worry about the partnership's limitations or the location of the center – it’s about programmatic cooperation.

“It’s a run at something there’s a market demand for – it’s really a field that's very hot….In the end, everybody wants to see something happen down there.”

For more information, contact the City of Tumwater at
For past articles about the Old Brewery and Tumwater’s Brewery District plans, go to and use the search button to type in key words.

For more information about History Programs and Schmidt House tours, contact Don Trosper, Public History and Development Manager, (360) 786-8117 or or the Olympia Tumwater Foundation, (360) 943-2550 or

Above: Inside the Old Brewery tower as seen on October 8, 2014 during a tour of the Tumwater property.
Editor's Note, October 18: A caption for this story for a Falls Development LLC conceptual drawing misidentified the proposed building depicted. It was identified as the brewery tower. It is the 240 Custer Way building, also known as the RST Cellars building. The error has been corrected.

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

Great Blue Heron Rookery Saved From Development

Above: Volunteers Meghan Hopkins and her four year old daughter, Clare, clear ivy from land at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, recently purchased by Alicia Elliott.

By Janine Unsoeld

The Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation announced this weekend that a Great Blue Heron rookery on Olympia’s westside has been saved.
In an open letter to the community this weekend, Daniel Einstein, founder of the Coalition, said that Olympian Alicia Elliott bought the property, thus preventing it from being developed into townhomes.

The group formed after it was announced that the city had received an application for a short plat and townhome development. The developer, Glenn Wells, proposed the construction of three, two-unit townhomes,Wells Townhomes, and a six bay detached garage.

The letter from the Coalition states that Elliott was moved by the threat facing the rookery.
…That began a journey which has led Alicia to purchase the 1.84-acre parcel that holds most, but not all, of the nesting trees. She is now under contract to purchase the adjacent 2.73-acre parcel to the north. This provides a critical buffer for the herons as they return for the winter breeding season. At the same time, we are in positive negotiations with the developer, who has been very receptive to the unique habitat profile of his property….”

Alicia Elliott is also known for purchasing vacant property on the corner of Division and Harrison, and creating the space into a vibrant community area now called West Central Park. Most recently, Elliott also bought the property of the former DeGarmo’s Pharmacy next to the park. That space is scheduled to be converted into a cafĂ© in the Spring of 2015.
Rookery's First Seasonal Work Party

At the Coalition's first seasonal work party held this afternoon at the rookery site located at the end of Dickinson Avenue NW, many volunteers came to thank Elliott and work to clear the site of ivy and other debris.
Einstein took time to briefly describe the property’s purchase and history of the area.

“The developer was in a reciprocal easement agreement with another property owner through this driveway to access utilities, sewer, electric, gas. Any future subdivision could buy into his utility. Buying this parcel takes that out of the picture because these properties will never be subdivided,” said Einstein.

“In 2009, the developer logged the property, going right through the heron's nesting trees, and created a 450 foot driveway. After it was logged, the blue heron population plummeted.”

Asked if he has found any dead herons, Einstein said yes.

“We did find dead chicks and eggshells. We can’t prove it was directly linked to the logging because herons are preyed upon by eagles, but part of that is, the clearing of the trees left the nests wide open for the eagles to get in. They are also very sensitive to noise and this was a huge disruption,” said Einstein.
Einstein said there are 14 nests on the property. “That means 28 adults, and each nest usually contains four eggs, so there are about 50 to 60 herons here at the height of breeding season.”

Einstein says their breeding season is in August and September.
“The herons are gone now to other places, but they’ll be coming back in January or February, so this is our window of opportunity to do work. We want to create a viable ecosystem, so there’s going to be some restoration.”

Einstein says the remains of a former homeless camp there have been cleared.
“The idea is to close this area off and create a habitat preserve. We’re going to have to create that because there isn’t one in city code. The herons need to be left alone so we can enjoy them down on the shoreline. We are also working to daylight Schneider Creek and restore it for fish passage….Eventually, we want to protect 80 to 90 acres,” said Einstein.

Above: Looking like Truffula trees, this tree has several visible blue heron nests.

While Einstein says he’s been having positive conversations with city officials, a few policies regarding codes and lax permitting have to be changed in order to make progress.

He also stressed the need to make the city’s urban forester position fulltime. City of Olympia Urban Forester Michelle Bentley has a heavy workload and is only available part-time, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.

Volunteers Make It Happen

“It’s so exciting!” said Debbie Hathaway, a board member of the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation.
“It’s been a very encouraging sign that neighbors care about wildlife corridors. It’s a sign of good things to come. It’s also a good example of how we can work together,” said Hathaway.

Northwest neighborhood resident Meghan Hopkins also came, and brought her hard-working four year old daughter, Clare.
“We can see the herons from our living room window. It’s inspiring to see community members come together for what they believe in for the creatures of the natural and human worlds, and balance out everyone’s needs,” said Meghan Hopkins.

For more information about the Olympia Coalition for Ecosystems Preservation, go to:
Back-To-Back Work Parties
Above: Seth Chance, Robyn Montgomery, and Alicia Elliott take a brief break from working while Ruben Males rakes the open space at West Central Park today. The park features edible and medicinal plants, which are scheduled to be labeled with small brass plaques.Today, workers harvested the last of the tomatoes, delicata squash, and strawberries of the season.

For more information about West Central Park, Alicia Elliott, and DeGarmo’s Pharmacy, go to and type key words into the search engine.