Developers want to demolish Heidelberg Brewery

The old Heidelberg Brewery downtown could have a date with a wrecking ball in the near future. A group of developers wants to level the aging structure and build a hotel where it now stands.

Representatives of Seattle-based Hotel Concepts discussed their initial plans for a Holiday Inn during a December meeting of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The structure would rise seven or eight stories, at the site of the old brewery at 2120 S. 'C' St.

The group has applied to the city for a demolition permit to knock down one of the oldest buildings on the northern section of the block. An addition built in the 1950s, under other ownership, would remain for now.

Tony Trunk owns a southern portion of the property that would be used for the hotel. He said several architectural firms were contacted to determine if the old structure could be renovated and used for another use. He said an adaptive reuse would cost $14 million. "Economically, it just does not make sense," Trunk told the commission.

The original building was designed in 1900. Over the years it underwent two expansions and four additions.

The brewery had numerous owners over the years, from the original, Columbia Brewing Company, to G. Heileman Brewing Company, the last operator to make beer in the facility. Heileman closed down production in 1979 when it bought Seattle's Rainier Brewing Company.

In the early 1990s part of the structure was remodeled for use as practice spaces for local rock bands. In the mid-1990s a fire broke out in one of the rooms that was determined to be arson. It caused extensive damage.

Hotel Concepts principal Han Kim showed a preliminary drawing of the hotel.

Several commission members said they do not want another hotel that looks like the Courtyard by Marriott next to the convention center, because they feel it has a suburban design not appropriate for downtown.

"We don't want to be criticized because of that," Kim said.

Commissioner Jonathan Phillips gave Kim an assurance that the commission would not let the Marriott affect its dealings with Hotel Concepts.

Some members asked that the design blend with the brick warehouses in the nearby University of Washington-Tacoma campus.

Kim stressed that the design is likely to change. The final project could include condominiums, he added. "Our hotel plan is in flux."

Sharon Winters, president of Historic Tacoma and a former member of the commission, spoke with Kim and his business partners after the presentation. She requested they include some components of the old brewery in the hotel, such as the water tower.

The site is within Union Station Conservation District, which puts demolition and new construction under the review of the commission. Its recommendations would be passed on to Tacoma City Council.

The buildings are not on any historical registers at the local, state or federal levels.

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