Quake quickens downtown Napa redevelopment

From the North Bay Business Journal
By Cathy D’Angelo Holmes

Downtown Napa will most likely will only lose one to two buildings because of the early Sunday morning Aug. 24 magnitude 6.0 earthquake that awakened Napans and their visitors and rattled Northern California as far away as 120 miles. All the other buildings are repaired or in process.

Yes, the economic and financial toll may near the $1 billion mark. However, we are one fortunate city. We are very grateful to be able to save many historic key buildings: the old courthouse, post office, Goodman Library and Sam Key Laundry, which is home to Vintners Collective. The Alexander Building — the poster child for the national new reports, with its gaping hole on the northwest corner of the second floor — is under reconstruction.

Two buildings will be repurposed or torn down. The earthquake forced Napa Valley Register to print off site, solidifying that it did not need to occupy 21,000 square feet of office on 1.32 acres of land. The building received three bids over the asking price of $5.5 million, so the plan is replace it with housing. This would be only the second downtown-living opportunity besides the 50 condos at The Riverfront, which are fully sold out. It has not be announced to date how many units the block will occupy and whether they will be for lease or sale.

The second building targeted for a teardown is the storefront west of the former Tuscany restaurant building at First and Main that hosted Don Perico’s. The building was red-tagged after the quake, and the owners found it financially unfeasible to correct and renovate. The tenant moved to a new location, and the owners are selling the building to Bounty Hunter Rare Wines and Spirits, which purchased the Tuscany building two years ago. Although the corner has been dormant, it is set to house a three-story complex featuring wine and spirits sales, offices and a rooftop restaurant, all under the Bounty Hunter name.

In the same corridor, City Winery opened its fourth U.S. location, in the historic Napa Valley Opera House. It offers dinner theater and entertainment in the performance hall and a full restaurant and bar on the ground level. The performer lineup, covering the gamut of artists, makes one ponder whether we are actually in Napa.

The owners of Pizzeria Azzurro and Norman Rose opened their third downtown restaurant: Atlas Social, located where the former Bistro Sabor was operating and an adjoining space. Under the guidance of Juancarlos Fernandez/Signum Architecture, the space now boasts soaring ceilings, lots of wood; bistro table/bar/window/communal seating for 70 plus 30 outside. The menu is features small-plate dishes from around the world.

Opened next door is Jax Mule Diner, featuring classic diner food favorites. Coming in 2015 Ca’Momi Enoteca currently at the Oxbow Market will open a full sit-down Italian restaurant across from Atlas Social where Naked Wines had a tasting room and offices the past two years.

On the northeast corner of First and Main, the space for the short-lived Bellisimo Deli will host Napa Palisades Beer Co. this May. In addition to its and others’ craft beer, brewpub will serve food made from local sources.

On Main Street headed toward The Riverfront are must-mentions and must-trys: Velo Pizzeria; By the pie or slice, they feature American style pizza and La Taberna: a Spanish tavern, a sister restaurant to the popular Zuzu’s also on Main St. The Riverfront awaits the replacement of Fish Story, but filling its last space on Main will be The Corner, selling high-end, rare and quality wines and serving small plates of California gastropub food, high-end liquor plus beer and wines.

All this can be viewed as you travel on newly two-way streets First, Second, Third and Fourth. Not since 1967 could you travel in both directions on them. It is a huge success for consumer flow and accident-free to date.

Notice our tour has not even left First and Main streets. Traveling west on First, it is exciting to see construction on the much-anticipated Archer Napa hotel. It has balconies with host outdoor fireplaces as well as rooftop entertainment and a swimming pool. Scheduled to open with 183 rooms in fall 2016, according to developer Todd Zapolski, the hotel is part of 170,000 square feet of new retail space in the Napa Center redevelopment. And who will be the retailers that has been the 36-month question? Zapolski plans to announce retailers this summer.