The dirt behind Hardywood’s Goochland delay

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State and county officials break ground with Hardywood’s co-founders in November 2015 in Goochland. (BizSense file photo)

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. — As it starts pulling pints at its new taproom in Charlottesville, a local brewery’s westward expansion will take longer than anticipated closer to Richmond.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery is now targeting a spring 2018 opening for its planned $28 million, 60,000-square-foot production facility in Goochland’s West Creek Business Park. The first phase of the complex, announced in 2015, initially was planned to open this spring.

Hardywood president and co-founder Eric McKay said the delay came after issues were discovered early on with the soil on the building site. John Waechter of Loughridge & Co., the construction firm building the Goochland facility, said it learned of the soil issues in late fall 2015.

Rather than remove and replace the soil or chemically treat it, Waechter and McKay said they chose to push back the project to give the site a chance to thaw heading into spring 2016.

“We knew the soils were going to be a potential issue based on other developments around that area,” Waechter said. “The soils out there have a lot of plasticity in them, which makes it a good structural material. But if it’s wet, as it is in the winter, then you’re either forced to remove and replace it, which is hugely expensive, or chemically alter it, which is still expensive, but less so.”

McKay said they also did not want to assume any environmental risks that could come with chemically treating the soil.

Waechter said the decision to wait for the soil to dry was made jointly with Hardywood in February 2016 – three months after they broke ground. Instead of starting construction last winter, they waited until May to get underway.

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