Deschutes Eyeing Virginia for Possible East Coast Brewery


It’s no secret that Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery has been on the hunt for a location to build an east coast brewing facility. A recent report from Charlottesville Tomorrow, a non-profit news organization covering land use and development in the Charlottesville, Va. area, confirms that the company is indeed considering Virginia.

Deschutes president Michael LaLonde told the website that Albemarle County is “one of several” east coast sites the company is currently eyeing. Other areas Deschutes is said to be investigating include Asheville, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and Charleston, South Carolina.

In order to land Deschutes, the Albemarle Planning Commission would first need to rezone an area near the Interstate 64 and U.S. 29 interchange. Approving that reclassification, however, is somewhat complicated. The area is currently zoned for “single-family homes” and would need to be rezoned for any commercial uses. An Albemarle County “Comprehensive Plan” strictly regulates land use and helps to determine what kinds of new developments are approved.

Adjusting which zones are able to be developed for commercial endeavors can be difficult, Charlottesville Tomorrow reporter Sean Tubbs told Brewbound. One area of concern is increased traffic, he said. So, in an effort to better understand the impact a commercial development would have on the area, The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) commissioned a study and determined that a project could “generate more than 5,000 daily trips,” Tubbs wrote.

Nevertheless, county and state officials are preparing incentive packages to help attract the brewery. Specific details have not been revealed, but the packages could include state grants and waived development fees.

The location Deschutes is said to be looking at is currently owned by Sweetspot of Albemarle LLC and located next to the Virginia Eagle Distributing Co.

The ownership group behind Sweetspot is still a bit of a mystery, according to C-Ville Weekly. In county filings, Sweetspot listed an Atlanta address belonging to Douglas Holladay, a 1976 graduate of the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Holladay currently serves as an operating partner of Meritage Funds (not to be confused with Meritage Group, which owns Columbia Distributing), and represents the firm as a director of one of its portfolio companies, Crisp Media.

Calls placed to both Holladay and Deschutes founder Gary Fish were not returned as of press time.

A work session to determine the viability of rezoning the area in question is scheduled for September 2. A public hearing is also scheduled for September 9.