A plan to build a distillery and restaurant on the east side of Tacoma’s downtown Foss Waterway has fallen through.
The distillery’s developer, Riverhorse Inc., told city economic development officials this week it will build the new facility in Kentucky instead of Tacoma.
Elly Walkowiak of Tacoma’s Economic Development Department said Friday that Riverhorse executives told the city they were unable to reach a satisfactory agreement to buy the site just north of the Murray Morgan Bridge.
That site on East D Street is now occupied a dilapidated sheetmetal warehouse. Riverhorse executives said they had planned to raze that building and build a new one on the land to house the distillery and waterfront restaurant. The distillery said it wanted to reuse some of the timbers in the old building in the new structure.
The city had applied for state funds to help with infrastructure improvements on the property. Riverhorse executives, who had been scheduled to appear before the state Community Economic Revitalization Board Jan. 17 to answer questions about their project, canceled their appearance. They said illness prevented their making the trip from Minnesota where Riverhorse is based.
The grant consideration had been reset for March, but the company called this week to say it had picked another site.
If Riverhorse had built a distillery on the waterway, the company would have employed about 50 workers.
Riverhorse financial officer Greg Gadel said the startup company was interested in Tacoma because of its proximity to sources for the the ingredients the distillery would use in its production process.
Walkowiak said she will continue to work with landowners along the Foss to find new development opportunities.
The waterway’s easy access to downtown was restored for the first time in six years last week when the city reopened the Murray Morgan Bridge over the waterway. A $57 million renovation project replaced deteriorated steel and bridge lift machinery in the century-old vertical lift bridge.