An empty west Napa lot will become the site of a housing experiment. Napa Creek Village, whose backers promise greener design and a path to home ownership, has won the city’s go-ahead to start work on the 48-unit condominium complex.
The project cleared its last hurdle with the City Council’s 4-0 approval Tuesday night, with Juliana Inman absent. Thriving Communities Napa Valley LLC, the developer, aims to move in its first tenants by the end of 2016, then begin selling residences 10 years later in a rent-to-own program.
“This may be the greenest multi-family development in America,” said Bob Massaro, representative for Thriving Communities, a specialist in energy-conscious housing. “We have this target in our sights, which will be a feather in Napa’s cap.”
If things go as intended, this project should qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum status — the highest energy-efficiency ranking of the U.S. Green Building Council, he said.
Eight residential buildings, a community center and 95 parking spaces will comprise Napa Creek Village at 2614 First St., west of Highway 29 and Freeway Drive. The complex will occupy a deep, narrow 2.49-acre parcel bordered on the north by Napa Creek, which will be separated from the condos by an 8-foot-high wire fence to prevent disturbance to fish and plant life.
The developer has promised various features to reduce the development’s electrical and water use, including “living wall” climbing plants on the sides of buildings to reduce the load on climate control systems.
Napa Creek Village also will capture rainwater and gray water, and feature drip irrigation, LED outdoor lights, and rooftop solar panels intended to make residents’ electrical bills nearly zero.
For its first decade, Napa Creek Village will be a rental property with units ranging from studios to two bedrooms. Five units would be set aside for households making no more than Napa’s median income, two would be reserved for those making 80 percent, and one for a family earning less than 60 percent of the median.
After the city Planning Commission approved the housing complex in March, council members on Tuesday largely supported the plan. Concerns about the development stemmed less from the housing itself than with how well it would mesh with the surrounding streets.
Napa Creek Village’s sole entrance will be on the north shoulder of First Street, with a stoplight to the east and a narrowing roadway west toward Browns Valley. Despite developer estimates the new housing would add only about two extra seconds of waiting time for the average First Street drive, Councilman Scott Sedgley questioned the safety of allowing two-way exits on a route already stressed by other housing developments nearby.
“It’s a wonderful project and it’s needed, but that egress is going to be very bad,” he said. “I drive it every day, and the way all these apartment complexes enter First Street is a hazard.”
Massaro said he and the city’s public works staff discussed a ban on left turns out of the condo property, but shelved the idea for fear that drivers would simply attempt dangerous U-turns on First Street’s narrower stretch to the west.
Restricted deeds on the eight below-cost residences are designed to keep them affordable even after their sale, Councilman Peter Mott said after the meeting. The deeds would limit their yearly appreciation and keep them under the oversight of the Housing Authority of the City of Napa.