The Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority is moving forward to have Blewett Brewing of Leavenworth move into the building in Wenatchee vacated by Badger Mountain Brewing.

Port commissioners selected Blewett Brewing at their Tuesday meeting from among three proposals to take over the high-profile location.

Port CEO Jim Kuntz says the owner will bring another dimension with food service that'll specialize in hand crafted pizza. "The way he explained how he does his restaurant gave me a high level of 'this guy knows what he's doing,'" said Kuntz.

The Port owns the building and will begin the negotiating process for a lease agreement with Blewett Brewing. The company has a target date to open at the 1 Orondo Avenue location by late this year.

Blewett plans to move its brewing operation to Wenatchee while enlarging the restaurant space at its Leavenworth location.

Badger Mountain shut its doors at the end of last year after a decade because of a challenging business climate. For its part, Blewett told Port staff it has been generating $2.2 million annually in revenues.

Blewett Brewing is owned by Eric Peterson, who was born in Wenatchee, went to Central Washington University and moved to Seattle to get a start in the food industry.

He refers to Blewett Brewing as a pizzeria brewpub. His plans for the 1 Orondo Avenue site call for a brewery and upscale pizzeria.

Peterson plans to bring some staff to the Wenatchee location from Leavenworth and offer a handful of new jobs. He’s proposing a lease rate of $6,000/month.

After reviewing the three applicants, Port CEO Jim Kuntz now says he wants to explore the possibility of marketing the adjacent area to more microbrewers and brewpubs. "I want to spend some staff time and some of our money to really look at, should we look at starting a brewery district," Kuntz said.

He told Port commissioners Tuesday that he’s impressed with the rent that microbreweries can afford to pay – $7,000-$8,000/month.

The Port owns several empty warehouse buildings on the north and south side of Orondo Avenue on the east side of South Columbia Street, next to the BNSF Railroad tracks.

Kuntz referred to one building across the street from 1 Orondo, known as Building H, for which the Port has been trying to find the right tenant or group of tenants. Kuntz noted that a batting cage and gymnasium business could only pay so much in rent, compared to the higher sums proposed by the applicants for 1 Orondo.

He said he received a positive response from Wenatchee mayor Mike Poirior when discussing the concept of a brewery district. “When you have a basis with people willing to pay $7,000-8,000 a month, maybe there’s a there there to developing this brewery district,” said Kuntz.

One of the two other applicants for the 1 Orondo Avenue site was Kulshan Brewing Company of Bellingham, a group of three owner-operators who would run the business, along with two investor owners.

The Kulshan plan included spending approximately $200,000 to renovate the taproom space and install a large walk-in cooler within the building.

The intention of the taproom was to create a place for the community to gather. Kulshan would provide small food offerings.

Kulshan Brewing has a existing, successful business in Bellingham that has been in business since 2012. The company has two locations and was interested in expanding distribution into eastern Washington.

Kulshan proposed a lease rate that would peak at $8,400/month after three years.

A third application came from David Zavala, a graduate of the University of Washington, who would be the sole owner of what would be Riverhound Brewing.

He said he would have minimal other investors of around $20,000. Zavala had spent time at Badger Mountain Brewing in the past. He projected sales of what he said was a baseline of what Badger Mountain produced, which was an average of $739,387.39/year or $61,615.62.

He proposed a monthly rent topping out at $7,971.69.

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