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‘Economic sanctions’ in play to spur brewery owner to action, Tumwater mayor says

Local leaders look back at 2018 and ahead to the new year at the Thurston Chamber 2019 State of the Community Forum

Local mayors Cheryl Selby of Olympia, Pete Kmet of Tumwater, Andy Ryder of Lacey, Yelm Mayor JW Foster and Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings share thoughts on local issues including homelessness to economic goals at the annual forum.
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Local mayors Cheryl Selby of Olympia, Pete Kmet of Tumwater, Andy Ryder of Lacey, Yelm Mayor JW Foster and Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings share thoughts on local issues including homelessness to economic goals at the annual forum.

Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet said Wednesday he continues to be hopeful about the future of the former site of the Olympia Brewing Co., the community icon that closed in June 2003 and shed hundreds of jobs.

But little has happened to those buildings since then, except for a fire that damaged one of them south of Custer Way in October.

“I continue to be optimistic that we will see some activity at the brewery,” Kmet told a crowd at the Hotel RL in west Olympia on Wednesday.

However, he added the following: The city can force the issue of more activity through positive steps, or through “economic sanctions.”

And economic sanctions means the brewery owner could face a fine of more than $30,000 by this Friday, according to city information.

Kmet delivered his remarks during the State of the Community address organized annually by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce. The event brings together the mayors of the four largest cities in Thurston County, and includes a county commissioner, to talk about the year ahead.

After the meeting, Kmet appeared just as frustrated about the lack of action at the brewery as he was after the fire. He also remains puzzled about what motivated the owner — Chandulal Patel — to buy the property in the first place. Patel, a member of Tumwater Development LLC, paid $4 million for the property south of Custer Way in December 2015.

The real estate developer is thought to split his time between California and India.

“I honestly don’t know what motivated him,” Kmet said about the purchase, adding the relationship started out positively and that the city turned over all its plans and studies about the property.

“It looked like they were ready to take that next step and yet nothing has happened,” he said.

Tumwater spokeswoman Ann Cook spelled out the potential fines in greater detail.

On Oct. 22, the city issued four code violations for overgrown vegetation, dilapidated fencing, graffiti and an unsecured building.

The first fine totaled $100 and it was paid, Cook said.

The next inspection is set for Friday. If no corrective action has been taken, the owner is facing a $100 fine per day, per violation ($400 per day) for the past 81 days, which will total $32,400, Cook said.

And if there is still no corrective action after Friday’s inspection, the fine goes up to $200 per day, per violation. The next inspection would take place in 30 days, she said. The city also has issued several building violations as well, Cook said.

Kmet said the city had to step up enforcement because the buildings are increasingly targeted by vandals and others. A security guard, hired by the owner, monitors the property, but one person is not enough, he said.

“There are literally dozens of people taking it apart from the inside out,” he said.

Kmet said he would rather see the owner sell the property to someone who will do something positive.

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.

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