Tumwater’s historic old brewhouse is about to become public property.
Property owner Falls Development LLC has agreed to donate the iconic 111-year-old brick brewhouse to the city.
Tumwater Mayor Pete Kmet is expected to make the donation official Tuesday (April 5) by authorizing a letter of agreement with Falls Development during the Tumwater City Council meeting. The public will be able to comment about the acquisition and brewery properties at the council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 555 Israel Road SW.
Located on the Deschutes River, the six-story brewhouse served as the original Olympia Brewery until 1916. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
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The brewhouse is north of Custer Way, while the larger and more modern brewery site is located south of Custer.
The donation also comes with a commitment to remodel and preserve the aging structure at an estimated cost of $5.6 million, according to a 2015 study. The brewhouse is unsafe to occupy now and is vulnerable to weather and seismic activity.
Falls Development would still own the 32-acre property that surrounds the brewhouse, but with the donation, the city will own the land directly beneath the brewhouse itself.
As part of the donation agreement, the city will reimburse Falls Development as much as $1 million for any infrastructure improvements, such as utilities and access roads, related to rehabilitation efforts at the old brewhouse.
The agreement also calls for the city to design and build trails and a boardwalk to allow public access to the property.
The next step includes a continuing conversation to determine which direction the public wants to go with the brewery properties, said Heidi Behrends Cerniwey, assistant city administrator and brewery project manager.
“As we look at the historic site and the site south of Custer Way, the cost to redevelop and rehabilitate the site is significant, and they’ll never pencil out for the private sector,” she said. “Public investment is part of the equation.”
The grand vision for Tumwater’s brewery district is to build an economic hub that capitalizes on the state’s booming craft brewing and distilling industry. If it comes to fruition, the proposed Tumwater Craft Brewing and Distillery Center could generate more than 600 jobs and more than $101 million for the local economy, according to the study.