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Planners: Sell land to brewery

 


The Haines Brewing Company is one step closer to locating on Main Street.

Both the Haines Borough Planning Commission and Downtown Revitalization Committee overwhelmingly endorsed a proposal by brewery owners Paul Wheeler and Jeanne Kitayama to purchase 20,000 square feet of borough land at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Main Street.

Last week, the planning commission voted 4-0 to recommend the assembly classify the land as for sale and work with the brewery to negotiate the purchase.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said she believes there is a “groundswell of support” for the brewery moving downtown, and that the business’s local, regional and statewide following will bring vibrancy to the downtown core.

Wheeler and Kitayama are proposing to buy the 20,000 square feet of land for $3 per square foot, approximately $60,000. The land is assessed at $4.33 per square foot.

Aspen Hotels is purchasing 52,665 square feet of adjacent property on Main Street for $215,000, or about $4.08 per square foot.

In April 2012, the planning commission voted 4-3 to retain borough ownership of the brewery’s desired lot (Lot 8 of the old primary school subdivision) for at least 10 years. The commission, however, overrode its previous motion by recommending the land’s classification as “for sale.”

Commissioner Rob Goldberg, who admitted he has long been a proponent of using the area as a borough-owned “campus” or “green space,” said he supported sale of the land to the brewery. “I changed my mind on this,” Goldberg said.

If the brewery sale goes through, that still leaves about two-thirds of Lot 8 for development of a public park or green space, Goldberg said.

Though the borough has three options for disposing of property, the commission is recommending the manager negotiate the sale exclusively with the brewery instead of opening up the property to other bids.

“They came to us the same way we worked with Aspen Hotels,” commissioner Heather Lende said.

The price that the property sells for isn’t within the purview of the commission’s recommendations, Goldberg said. “We don’t have anything to do with the price of a property,” he said.

Lende pointed out that an MRV Architects plan, which cost the borough $40,000, suggested incentivizing businesses to locate downtown, and part of that incentive could be selling borough land at a price below its assessed value.

Commissioner Lee Heinmiller said the brewery locating on Main Street would “be a good shot in the arm for downtown,” while commissioner Andy Hedden called the decision to sell the property “a textbook no-brainer.”

The Downtown Revitalization Committee, which held a special meeting prior to the planning commission, also voted unanimously to endorse the brewery’s proposal.

The assembly will vote on whether to accept the commission’s recommendation Tuesday.