The Craft District project in downtown Tumwater is many things, but typical is not one of them. As a public/private partnership between the City of Tumwater and developers John Peters and Mike Parsons, the site presents both challenges and opportunities for innovative solutions. “On the one hand you have typical issues like parking, stormwater and utilities,” says Tumwater City Manager John Doan. “At the same time, the city is building a street that runs right through the middle of this private property. It’s certainly is a unique project.”
Tyrell Bradley of SCJ Alliance is project manager for the civil engineering components of the site, which will include space for South Puget Sound Community College’s new Brewing and Distilling program as well as Gig Harbor-based Heritage Distilling. He’s overseen everything from installing sewer and water systems to designing complex traffic and site reroutes working with a multi-disciplined team within SCJ, and meeting frequently with both the city and the developers. Patrick Holm, SCJ Alliance project manager for the new Tumwater Valley Drive re-alignment, has also worked closely with Tyrell and the City throughout the entire site design process to assure the best possible route was selected and designed for the project.
Given the site’s proximity to the Deschutes River, the first step was for SCJ to create a Habitat Protection Plan outlining the impacts to the river’s shoreline and steps to mitigate those impacts. “We’re going to get rid of the invasive species, which are the blackberries,” says Bradley. “We’re replanting with native species that will be good for the habitat of the Deschutes.”
Bringing water, sewer, and utilities to the site presented another challenge. SCJ is working with Puget Sound Energy to provide underground power, cable and telephone along the project’s frontage, but water was a separate issue. With an eye toward potential future development, SCJ worked with the City on bringing water all the way from the La Quinta Inn on Capitol Boulevard up to the E Street intersection. “It’s almost 2,000 feet of new water main extension,” Bradley says. “It will really help developers on the north side down into the old brewery district to have access to better water pressure.”
In some areas of the site, groundwater was just two or three feet below the surface, making it difficult to find places to build stormwater facilities. Bradley’s team decided to build the facilities where a larger distance existed between the groundwater and the surface existed.
One of the biggest challenges was figuring out the best flow for traffic. Again, SCJ considered not just current use, but future potential uses in their design. “We’re realigning the access down to the valley by the golf course as well as the athletic club,” says Bradley. “There was a lot of community involvement and a huge effort from the city. We looked at questions like, ‘What should the alignment look like? What speeds are safe for vehicles coming down? And can we get semi-trucks down that?’”
The result will be a new intersection at Tumwater Valley Drive and Capitol Boulevard, in between the current Linwood/Capitol and E Street/Capitol Boulevard intersections. The change will provide greater access to both the site and to Tumwater Valley Drive. Eventually the city plans to turn the E Street intersection into a roundabout; adding the new intersection now will simplify that process in the future. “Moving the access to the Tumwater Valley 1,200 feet to the south is a big step for the city in helping them clean up that intersection for their long-term plan,” says Bradley.
The reroute also impacts parking. Spaces will be added along the existing Tumwater Valley Drive and one portion of the intersection. We worked to maintain access to current businesses near the site, says Bradley. “It took a lot of coordination,” he adds. “The city’s primary focus was on making sure the businesses saw a huge benefit from the project and that construction wouldn’t impact their ability to succeed.”
Effective working relationships among the key players have been fundamental to the project’s success. “I’ve gotten to work with a team of extremely talented individuals,” says Bradley. He credits Tumwater’s Public Works Director Jay Eaton and Planning Manager Chris Carlson, developers John Peters, Mike Parsons and Dylan Parsons, and architects Darren Filand of Fi Architecture and Jim Cary of Cardinal Architecture.
Doan has been a driving force behind the project, Bradley notes. “He’s really the pioneer of a lot of the redevelopment we’re seeing. Abig part of his vision is making Tumwater into an excellent place to live, work and play.”
The eventual result will be a true community asset. “It’s going to be such a cool space with a distillery and brewery, other shops and potentially an outdoor amphitheater for entertainment in the long run,” Bradley shares. “I think this will really spark more redevelopment in the surrounding area.”
Doan agrees. “We want Tumwater to be known as a Center of Excellence for brewing, making cider and distilling in this area, whether that’s Thurston County, Puget Sound or on a much larger scale,” he says. “That will create energy that brings investment back to the old brewery property and brings agriculture back to Thurston County.”