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‘Sleeping giant’ awakens

Eileen JoyceNikko Wu walks through one of the tunnels beneath the Old Nevada Brewery building she recently bought in Nevada City. She thinks the tunnels might serve well as a wine cave.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

A woman raised in Taiwan who uses a business card touting Bay Area, Mexican and French addresses has bought Nevada City’s Old Nevada Brewery building.

And if you win Nikko Wu’s contest for ideas on how she can utilize the historic structure, she’ll send you to Puerto Vallarta for six nights and seven days.

The three-story stone building, across Sacramento Street from Kirby’s Creekside Restaurant & Bar, had been in and out of escrow four times before it sold in January, said Lock Richards, owner and broker of Highland Commercial real estate firm.



Wu bought the building for a price no one is disclosing and is not yet recorded with the county. The asking price was $1.2 million, said Richards. The assessed value was $763,980 on the county’s 2002-03 tax rolls.

The building, constructed in 1850, was vacant at the time it was listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1985, said Joseph McDole, data manager for the California office of historic preservation.




“Once we put it back on the market, we actively got continuous interest,” Richards said. “There’s always been good interest in the building, and it has an unheard-of parking lot for Nevada City.”

But four different escrows and the additional time that takes created additional time the building stayed vacant, Richards said.

And it had been vacant for a couple of years when Wu bought it.

“It’s riskier for people to buy buildings vacant,” said Richards, who works only in commercial properties. “There’s no income (from tenant businesses) and banks don’t want to lend on it.”

Also, changes to the building need to be done with approval of the National Park Service, McDole said.

Wu likened her purchasing the prominent building to “bringing a sleeping giant back to life.”

The joint was jumping for a few years when it was Stonehouse Brewery, but the popular business went bankrupt, Richards said. A portion of the first floor housed brewery equipment and Wu envisions a dance floor there, but she’s open to suggestions.

“I want to hear what the community thinks we need here,” Wu said of her contest. She asked people to e-mail ideas to

If you don’t win first place you might win second, which is three nights and four days in Puerto Vallarta. Third place winner will receive a dinner for two.

A self-described farmer’s daughter from a small village outside of Taipei, Taiwan, and a registered nurse and massage therapist, Wu moved to Nevada County from San Francisco and often took note of the building.

There’s space for several businesses in the 10,000-square-foot stone and wood building that contains carved wooden doors that Wu believes are from the old Kidder Mansion in Grass Valley.

“I feel the universal spirit picked me,” Wu said about why she purchased the empty building. “I can feel the weight on my shoulders.”

First Place – Puerto Vallarta for six nights and seven days.

Second Place – Puerto Vallarta for three nights and four days.

Third Place – Dinner for two

E-mail Ideas to – chinagypsy@hotmail.com or nikkowu@yahoo.com.

Or call – 478-5686


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