The Marshall Wharf brewery building in Belfast has sold in a deal and could reopen by this spring. Credit: Courtesy of Tranzon Auction Properties

BELFAST, Maine — Less than 48 hours before the auction to sell the Marshall Wharf building on the waterfront, a local couple has inked a deal to buy it from the bank that foreclosed on it.

Daniel Waldron and Kathleen Dunckel have the goal of bringing the beloved brewery and the Three Tides bar next door back to life and say they would like to start brewing beer as soon as possible. They ideally will begin selling beer and open Three Tides back up this spring. The couple closed on the Marshall Wharf deal late Monday afternoon to purchase the building, the brewery operations and assets, as well as the naming rights to Three Tides.

The new owners declined to provide the purchase price of the building.

“We’re both very excited, and relieved,” Waldron, who used to work at Three Tides, said Tuesday morning. “It was such a hard, long process. We had put so much time and effort and money into buying it, and walked out of it yesterday like, wow, here we are.”

Credit: Courtesy of Dann Waldron

The Marshall Wharf Brewing Co., located on the Belfast waterfront, helped launch the Maine craft beer craze after it opened in 2007. Former owners David and Sarah Carlson announced in February 2019 that they were putting the brewery building and Three Tides, the cocktail bar and eatery located next door, for sale. But the businesses closed just two months later, and although David Carlson told the BDN last June that he wanted to reopen the brewery store and tasting room as soon as possible, that did not happen.

Waldron and Dunckel, who also co-own Whitecap Builders, purchased only Marshall Wharf, the former city granary building that in recent years has been subjected to destructive high tide and storm floods. They have a verbal agreement with the owner of the Three Tides building to lease the property, and hope to get a written lease agreement hammered out this week.

“The owner of that property has been really supportive of us buying [Marshall Wharf] and bringing these businesses back to life,” Waldron said, adding that the Carlsons also have been supportive. “They wanted to see us have it, be able to buy it and open it back up.”

The new owners of Marshall Wharf will fill all the gaping holes in the building, which is roughly 6,000 square feet and which was built in 1900. The property has an assessed value of $277,000.

“We will basically winterize the building on the outside,” Waldron said. “We will be putting in some interior walls around the brew space so we can heat it, and obviously get the power turned on, the water, the sewer, all of that. We are going to brew sooner rather than later, in the building as it is.”

They also plan to consult with a commercial engineer on plans for the major rehaul. That might take as much as eight months, Waldron said, and then renovation work could potentially begin. Once they have plans drawn up, the couple will work closely with city officials to keep them in the loop. Marshall Wharf is subject to contract, or spot rezoning. That’s a tool used by the city in certain cases with the goal of giving landowners broader options on how to develop their properties, while allowing the City Council — rather than the planning board — the right to approve or reject elements of their plans.

The renovation is likely to take close to a year and half a million dollars, Waldron estimated. The building, which is in the flood plain, will need to be jacked up “a considerable amount” so the first floor is much higher than it is now, according to preliminary information the couple received from an engineering firm. They would like to use the second story of the building for commercial space, with details to be forthcoming later, and possibly put apartments into the third story.

“The building is probably going to come up at least eight feet,” Waldron said. “In the meantime, when we get the brewing set up now, we’re going to accomodate for the floods, knowing we may get a storm surge or high lunar tide, and just work with it.”

The couple is likely to start looking soon for folks who are interested in working in the brew house.

“Our hope is to bring back some of the staff that was there, to get started and to train new brewing staff,” Waldron said. “We’re super excited to bring Marshall Wharf Brewing and Three Tides back to our local community and beyond.”