by Ned Oliver
Workers unloaded a tree harvester this morning at the future site of Stone Brewing Co.’s Richmond brewery. The massive piece of equipment grips trees, cuts them at the base and loads them into a truck all in one swift motion. And with it, workers should have the still-wooded area clear by Monday, says Bob Boatwright, the general superintendent for Hourigan Construction.
The work is the first tangible sign of life at the site.
In October, representatives from Stone said they needed construction to begin in November. They were rushing City Council to approve a cooperation agreement, noting they had a “plan B” location if Richmond didn’t move fast enough. City Council complied, but the work never began.
The city Economic Development Authority, which is overseeing the deal, has acknowledged some delays, but insists that the plan remains on track.
But even as site work begins, the authority’s deal with Stone hasn’t been finalized. According to EDA chairman Julious P. Smith, Stone and the Authority have yet to execute a lease negotiated in December. The document lays out how Stone will repay the $23 million in bonds the city has taken out to fund the project.
EDA members met in closed session at their last meeting to discuss the project, but have declined to say publicly what’s behind the delay.