Fort George Brewery recently announced its expansion to the Astoria waterfront, taking over 124,000 square feet of warehouse space in an historic building on West Marine Drive. The location is just one mile away from the existing Fort George Brewery location. For some time, the company sought an appropriate location for an expansion project like this. (Above – the Fort George team at the new space.)
“We prefer working with historic properties; they have so much character and soul. It has a really cool story and the fact that we’ll be canning beer in an old can warehouse seems like destiny,” said Fort George Brewery’s Owner, Chris Nemlowill.
The main building at the new location once housed American Can Company, which produced cans on-site for Bumble Bee Seafoods’ historic Elmore Cannery. More recently, Astoria Warehousing labeled, stored and distributed cans of Alaskan salmon there, but the site closed last year and the 25 workers lost their jobs.
The brewery plans to move its main canning operation to the new location and will also build a production brewery at the site using equipment acquired from BridgePort Brewing, which closed its brewery in Portland earlier this year. Among that equipment, a 60-barrel brewhouse that will help the company realize a substantial increase in production. Currently, Fort George operates an 8.5-barrel system and a 30-barrel system.
The company’s two smaller breweries will remain at their current location downtown. The expansion offers the opportunity for the existing breweries to focus on producing a wider variety of beers, including specialty and experimental beers. The new space will also allow Fort George to grow local distribution of fellow craft beverage makers’ goods.
“This facility unlocks a ton of opportunity for our staff to innovate and grow,” said Fort George Distribution Manager Brad Depuyt. “We have been handcuffed with space limitations in both our production brewery and warehouse and we now have the ability to build a more efficient space while taking pressure off our downtown block.”
Fort George is investing $12.5 million in the Astoria waterfront. The deal includes a loan from US Bank to purchase the property, an environmental remediation grant from Oregon Business Development Department, and a New Markets Tax Credit investment from Craft3 (a nonprofit that makes loans to strengthen communities, small businesses, families, and the environment).
“We have always been impressed by Fort George’s effort to create opportunity for its employees and build a strong community in the Lower Columbia,” said Adam Zimmerman, Craft3 President and CEO.“Our New Markets Tax Credit investment builds on our shared commitment to create quality jobs and support the economic revitalization of the Astoria waterfront.”
Fort George, which has a history of promoting from within and providing benefits, aims to create at least 35 full-time jobs in the next five years. The company is also interested in making the property more accessible to the public with plans to eventually add a taproom at the new location so everyone can enjoy the view.