Apartment complex, road construction taking form

Projects on the way but moving slower than hoped
2013-02-24T21:08:00Z 2013-02-25T19:48:45Z Apartment complex, road construction taking formCHANTAL M. LOVELL Napa Valley Register
February 24, 2013 9:08 pm  • 

The construction of a new apartment complex on Silverado Trail is under way, but don’t give notice to your current landlord just yet.

St. Anton Partners, LLC began constructing the Alexander Crossing apartments on Silverado Trail just north of the Soscol Avenue intersection in September. The developer estimates the 134 units will be complete in 14 to 16 months, said Andy Davidson, vice president of construction. Davidson said the project is moving along, but lamented the restrictions placed on project construction hours.

“We could shave off a significant amount of time if we could work weekends,” Davidson said, explaining that the city will not allow the project to be constructed on weekends or holidays. During the week, Davidson said they are allowed to work from 7 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m.

“I can’t even have a guy out there sweeping on a Saturday,” Davidson said. He said he has never encountered such limited hours for a project.

Ardie Zahedani, St. Anton’s vice president of development, offered the shorter construction hours as one way to sweeten the project, which had left a sour taste in the mouths of some nearby residents. The complex, which will offer some units at a reduced rate to low- and very-low-income residents, was a controversial one involving a lawsuit and two approval processes.

The Napa City Council first approved the project in the summer of 2011, prompting residents to sue the city and developer. The developer withdrew the plans and submitted a new application to the city, offering to pay for an environmental impact report and requesting a zoning change over a lot line adjustment the second time around. In June 2012, the council again approved the project.

While the construction of Alexander Crossing is slow going, the construction of an adjacent but unrelated project is also moving slower than expected. The city is currently widening Silverado Trail and extending Saratoga Drive to provide another access point to east Napa from the Trail, but the work is lagging because of heavy November and December rains, according to project engineer Neil Mathiesen. The dry weather in January and February has helped the crews catch up a bit, and they could begin widening the Trail next week.

Thus far, crews have been working on underground utilities on both the Trail and in the area where Saratoga Drive will be extended, Mathiesen said. On Silverado Trail, a new traffic signal will be added at the area where Saratoga Drive and the Trail will intersect. There will be turn lanes, and paved shoulders and sidewalks.

Saratoga Drive will be paved when weather forecasts show a dry few weeks on the horizon, Mathiesen said.

According to the city, the extension of Saratoga Drive will ease congestion at the five-point intersection of Silverado Trail, Coombsville Road, Third Street and East Avenue. It is expected to improve emergency response times from the south Napa fire station to the Terrace/Shurtleff area by 25 percent. In total, the project is costing $6 million, including $4.26 million worth of construction and the money spent on engineering, permitting and property acquisition.

The road work is being paid for through a fund created by fees paid by private developers.

Mathiesen said the daytime, weekday closures of the Trail began in October and were to be finished by the end of 2012, but were delayed by heavy rain. He said the Trail remains closed to through traffic during the week.

The project was originally scheduled to be finished in late spring or early summer, but now the completion date is Aug. 1, Mathiesen said. He said it is unclear how long the closures on Silverado Trail could last, but it could be closed intermittently through the spring. He added it’s too soon to say whether it could be open by early May, when up to 30,000 people are expected to converge on the Napa Valley Expo for five days of rock concerts.

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