Brewhouse owner looks to officials to potentially revamp road to property

rboone@theolympian.comFebruary 21, 2013 

The owner of the historic brick brewhouse below Tumwater Falls has proposed an improved access road to the property, the first sign of potential development activity there since he bought the building and surrounding property in 2010.

Developer and owner George Heidgerken recently met with Tumwater development officials, seeking feedback and requirements for widening, paving and regrading a road that leads down to the brewhouse. Heidgerken said the road needs to be changed if he hopes to attract a tenant to the 200,000-square-foot brewhouse.

“They won’t put up with a single (vehicle) access road,” he said about prospective tenants.

Heidgerken proposes to widen the road for two-way access, including a curb and sidewalk, to accommodate the public and emergency vehicles.

The road is steep – it has a grade of more than 20 percent in places – so he also proposes to decrease the grade, Tumwater permit manager Chris Carlson said.

Carlson said the city standard for street grades is no more than 15 percent, although the city is pushing for 12 percent because emergency vehicles don’t like to access steep grades.

Heidgerken also learned at a recent city meeting what will be required to upgrade the road.

Carlson said the requirements include a shoreline substantial development permit, which includes a public hearing before the hearing examiner; critical area reports because the property is near wetlands; and upgrades to sewer and water systems.

Trees likely will be removed during construction, so Heidgerken will need a forester’s report, including an inventory of trees, as well as a site development permit to move dirt and install the road, Carlson said.

“We’d love to be under construction this year, but the process might hold us up for two or three years,” Heidgerken acknowledged.

Heidgerken paid $1.4 million for the brewhouse, 32 acres of property and two parking lots in a deal that closed in September 2010.

He also owns the warehouse at 240 Custer Way SW. Both the warehouse and the brewhouse once were part of the Olympia Brewery.

Since acquiring the property, Heidgerken has heard from “brewers, wineries and bakeries,” about occupying space in the buildings, but nothing has materialized.

The more modern brewhouse and related buildings south of Custer Way is still owned by a company called Capital Salvage of California, which came to control the property after a failed attempt to bottle water at the brewery. The brewery closed in June 2003.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

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