Lawsuit filed over brewery

TUMWATER: Brewhouse owner wants out of additional purchase

Staff writerMarch 30, 2011 

Lawsuit filed over brewery

Old Tumwater Brewhouse owner George Heidgerken stands outside the historic structure in Tumwater in this file photo from Sept. 30, 2010.

BY DREW PERINE/THE NEWS TRIBUNE — The Olympian

Old Tumwater brewhouse owner George Heidgerken’s company is suing the owner of additional property at the Olympia Brewery, claiming it withheld vital information about a $12 million transaction.

The suit claims Heidgerken’s company, It’s the Water LLC, signed an all-cash deal to buy the additional property. But before closing on the deal, Heidgerken’s company discovered that it wasn’t given information about the abandoned brewery’s condition, including the lack of sewer and water service.

“We made an offer, and after we made the offer we discovered that … we were never given all the material necessary to make a decision to buy or sell,” Heidgerken said in an interview.

The deal never closed.

It’s the Water LLC is suing Capital Salvage of Lafayette, Calif., its real estate agency, Pacific Real Estate Partners of Seattle, and then-agent Troy Dana as well as his wife, “Jane Doe” Dana.

The suit, filed Friday, asks for damages, for a reduced price for the brewery property, to void a current purchase-and-sale agreement, and the return of a $360,000 deposit.

A Capital Salvage representative referred comment to Dana, who did not return a phone call. A message left with Pacific Real Estate Partners also was not returned. A woman answering the phone there said Dana no longer works for the agency.

According to the suit:

In February, Heidgerken had been negotiating to buy a portion of the brewery, at 100 Custer Way S.W. in Tumwater. Dana was acting as the real estate agent for the owner, Capital Salvage.

On or about Feb. 28, Capital Salvage made an offer for Heidgerken’s company to buy the property, but he was only given “a few hours” to decide whether to make the purchase. His company therefore “was not allowed the time or opportunity to conduct a reasonable review of the offer.”

Heidgerken’s company opted to sign a purchase-and-sale agreement anyway.

Before the scheduled March 14 closing, Heidgerken discovered a Feb. 22 letter from Tumwater City Administrator John Doan to Dana, outlining the limitations of the property. Among other things, Doan says there is no sanitary sewer service to the site because the former line was removed.

There is also no water service. Any expansion on the site or utility construction could trigger requirements for floodplain, shoreline and state environmental review.

“That letter was never disclosed to us,” Heidgerken said. “That letter held a lot of crucial information on the brewery.”

Heidgerken said he discovered the letter by accident.

“The day before we were going to close, we said we got to check out with the city to see if there’s any reason we can’t occupy the buildings.”

He met with Mike Matlock, Tumwater’s community-development director, who gave him a copy of the Doan letter, according to the suit.

The suit says Heidgerken’s company wouldn’t have accepted the offer to purchase the brewery if he had known the facility lacked “crucial utilities discussed in the Doan letter.”

Heidgerken said he made a reduced offer for the brewery but was refused. Meanwhile, he had placed a $360,000 deposit on the property. He said the money is in escrow.

Heidgerken already owns the old brewery property north of Custer Way and had indicated last year that he was interested in purchasing more property south of it.

He and business partner Patrick Rhodes bought the historic brewhouse last summer for $1.4 million in cash. The deal included 32 acres surrounding the building and two parking lots.

Heidgerken purchased a 150,000-square-foot warehouse at 240 Custer Way S.W. a few years ago that also was part of the brewery property.

The LOTT Clean Water Alliance, the local sewer utility, also has considered buying brewery land to accommodate a water-treatment plant.

The old Olympia Brewery has been idle since 2003, when then-owner Miller Brewing Co. closed the plant and eliminated its 400 jobs.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869

mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

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