In a 2-1 vote last Thursday night, Port District No. 1 commissioners approved moving forward with construction of a rental building at Elochoman Marina to lease to Drop Anchor Brewery, a newly-formed LLC with local investors.
With Commissioner Larry Bonds participating via telephone from Arizona, port commissioners met with Drop Anchor Brewery proponents to discuss issues ranging from site location to rental costs.
Drop Anchor Brewery partner Richard Erickson said he’d met with county building and planning department manager Chuck Beyer to discuss the permit process required for building projects located within 200 feet of the shoreline.
After taking measurements with Beyer, the LLC partners selected a new preferred building site. The new site is located across Third Street from the port district’s rental cabins and behind Doug Martin’s dental practice. Martin is one of the brewery’s investors.
“Any concerns on that location, Counsel?” Port Commissioner Brett Deaton asked Port Attorney Tim Hanigan.
“Increased development costs, which get passed on to the renters,” Hanigan responded.
“We’re aware of that,” said Erickson.
Bonds asked Deaton and Commissioner Gary Quigley about their perceptions of community sentiment regarding the brewery.
Positive, they said. “It’s not so much the beer drinkers, it’s been people who want to see something happen in Cathlamet,” added Deaton.
“As our attorney, what’s your opinion, Tim?” Bonds asked Hanigan.
“This is what the port was designed for, to basically promote and get space for businesses. Legally, there’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing” said Hanigan.
“I liken it to the port of Kalama, which has a glass bottle manufacturing facility and Steelscape,” said Deaton.
“They had a brewery at one time, too,” said Quigley.
Drop Anchor Brewery partner Andy Lea commented that he had worked at that brewery.
“Why can’t you build in the corner of the current RV camping site area?” asked Bonds.
“Weren’t you thinking about moving your dump station there?” Erickson asked.
Yes, confirmed Deaton and Port Manager Jackie Lea.
“What if we moved our dump site somewhere else and built the building there? That property on the hillside overlooks the marina, that’s my concern,” said Bonds.
“The view is one of the things that make the site attractive,” said brewery partner Steve Sharp.
“The tasting room generates basically all of our operating costs. It’s huge for us. Making it a pleasant environment for yachters, half million dollar or quarter million dollar yachts, it needs to be someplace nice. And overlooking sewage ponds while you’re drinking a beer is not really conducive to generating revenue,” responded Erickson.
“Those sewage ponds aren’t going to be there for much longer,” said Bonds.
The Town of Cathlamet is building a new sewage treatment facility away from the waterfront, and the new facility is supposed to be in operation this fall.
“If we knew the city’s plans and time frame to decommission the sewer ponds, we might be more inclined to that location,” said Andy Lea.
“I don’t have a problem with the building going up there,” said Deaton. “I don’t either,” said Quigley.
Bonds asked his fellow commissioners how long they wanted to take to recoup the building costs for the rental.
“What did we discuss earlier- ten years?” asked Deaton.
“Yes, ten years,” said Erickson.
“Whatever it costs you to build it, divided by ten years, and that would be our rent. And it would be nice if we could prorate it a little bit on the first few years and then pick it up in the next few years once we start getting some revenue coming in. So if the building cost is $50,000, that would be $450-500 a month.”
Bonds and Deaton said they favored renegotiating the brewery’s lease in three years.
“I am not going to recommend going out to bid until we have an acceptable lease with the LLC,” said Hanigan.
Deaton moved to approve a building for a brewery at the site located across from the port’s cabins, conditioned on an acceptable lease.
Deaton and Quigley voted in favor; Bonds voted against. They authorized Hanigan to draft a lease.