The Beckstoffer family, long-time Napa Valley landowners and grapegrowers, have purchased a historic downtown Napa building that is currently home to Sushi Mambo.
The building, located at the northwest corner of First and Coombs streets, is the family’s first investment “in anything but vineyards,” said spokesperson Andy Beckstoffer. It will be placed in the Beckstoffer Family Trust, along with the famed To Kalon vineyard and other heritage vineyards owned by the family.
As part of the trust, the building will never be sold or demolished, Beckstoffer said. “It’s that important,” he said.
Neither the Beckstoffer family nor its business will occupy any of the space in the building, he said. Both the Roger Lewis Family Law firm and the Sushi Mambo restaurant have long-term leases that will be honored, he said in a phone interview. Beckstoffer said the family may rename it the Beckstoffer Building.
The Lewis family was the seller. Beckstoffer would not say how much his family paid for the two-story building.
The building was built in 1905, and was occupied by the Napa Valley Register until 1965, when it was converted to a downstairs restaurant with offices above. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Attorneys Roger Lewis and Robert Blevans bought the property in July 1999.
The property is located at a key location adjacent to Todd Zapolski’s redevelopment of the former Napa Town Center. Zapolski helped facilitate the purchase, said Beckstoffer.
While there is no joint ownership, Beckstoffer plans to coordinate the building’s use with Zapolski’s development of Napa Center, formerly referred to as the Shops at Napa Center and Zapolski Real Estate will manage the property, Beckstoffer said.
“Having it sort of ‘in the family’ was our goal,” said Todd Zapolski in a phone interview. Beckstoffer’s motivation was join “the action down here,” he said.
Beckstoffer’s purchase “is a great signal to the Upvalley to see that downtown Napa is where you need to be. Very few people have as much credibility …. We think it’s a great endorsement to others who still don’t get what’s going on down here,” Zapolski said.
Zapolski described Beckstoffer as his “non-partner partner.” Over time, “we will work with him on a strategy to incorporate it into the vision and experience of the Napa Center from Andaz to the Gordon building.”
Having that building in the “family,” Zapolski said, “allows us to work together, find complementary uses and a common vision.”
Beckstoffer said his family’s first concern is preservation. “No question that we want commercial success,” he said, but, “We have found that if … the project is good for Beckstoffer and the community … we can expect higher financial returns.”
Beckstoffer said that Upvalley wine interests should invest in Napa city and build their hospitality facilities there. The increasing number of hospitality facilities at wineries in the Ag Preserve is “out of balance” with winery production facilities, he said.
“We want to encourage wineries to balance their hospitality functions with their production facilities at their winery and use Napa city facilities as a major part of their hospitality function, thus protecting the integrity of the Ag Preserve and reducing the environmental concerns of increased traffic,” said Beckstoffer.
Downtown Napa merchants must get tourists to stop in the city as part of their wine country experience, said Beckstoffer. “If major hospitality facilities continue to build Upvalley, the significant investment of Zapolski and others in designated commercial areas will face event greater market challenges,” he said.
Zapolski said Beckstoffer is not the only Upvalley business owner to express interest in his project. “I’ve got four to five really significant Upvalley players trying to be involved down here. We’re getting the momentum,” Zapolski said.
In 2012, Zapolski and partners bought the Town Center and a string of adjacent commercial buildings on First Street: the Dunne Building, the former California Savings Bank building and the former Merrill’s Drug Store. In 2013, he purchased the Gordon Building.
In total, the newly renamed “Shops at Napa Center” will feature 156,000 square feet of retail space, with the owners promising to go after retailers that would bolster downtown as a place to shop, not just eat and sip wine. The five-story Archer Napa hotel is also part of Zapolski’s plans.
Work on the remodel of the center is underway, with walkways and exteriors already being renovated.