Brewery seeks land to expand

City committee gives thumbs-up to letting Alaska Brewing build at Lemon Creek gravel pit

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Assembly Lands Committee will advise the Assembly to grant an Alaska Brewing Co. request for first rights to build on a 20-acre parcel of land in the Lemon Creek gravel pit.

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The Alaska Brewing Co. is seeking to expand operations after the company produced more than 3 million gallons of beer last year, brewmaster and co-founder Geoff Larson said. Monday night's committee vote was unanimous for his request for the city complete negotiations in 2006 for the purchase and first rights to build on this site in the next five years.

"We have hit a wall and need more space," Larson said. "We want to double capacity over the next five years."

The company would most likely vacate their current building at Shaune Drive and move "lock, stock and barrel," Larson said. It currently sits on a 112 acre site.

"This is potentially a good opportunity for a homegrown business to create jobs and keep the money local," Lands and Resources Manager Steve Gilbertson said.

Larson said they want the plans negotiated now in order to secure needed permits, build, install equipment and initiate the relocation of operations. It could take two-to five years to remove fill materials at the site, he said.

The brewery will be producing enough beer by 2011 to support building on the land, he added.

Although approval was unanimous, one committee member questioned giving the brewer a potential unfair advantage.

"Although I believe the company have been a good citizen here I do have a questions," Assembly Lands Committee member Bob Doll said. "At what point are we putting other interested businesses at a disadvantage?"

Gilbertson said the company was not asking for special treatment, rather negotiations at fair market value.

"Negotiations with the brewery would provide a more certain future and could ensure it would grow as part of Juneau's economy," Gilbertson said. "Large tracts of industrial land in Juneau are scarce."

Juneau Economic Development Council Executive Director Lance Miller endorsed the proposal, saying he supported the Assembly entering into the negotiations to facilitate the growth of the company.

"In this day and era, manufacturing is often given significant incentives by communities to attract and retain the valued jobs created by this sector," Miller said. "These enticements are often in the form of relocation bonuses, long-term, low-interest loans, tax holidays, training of workers and so on.

"In this case, giving a homegrown company a secure idea of the land they can build on is one advantage that can be offered by Juneau."

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