Coombs Street Plaza

The city of Napa has decided to end efforts to turn a portion of Coombs Street in downtown Napa into a pedestrian corridor. The area between First and Pearl streets will instead be a one-lane northbound route leading to the Pearl Street parking garage.

J.L. Sousa, Register

Napa is ending its failed effort to turn a portion of Coombs Street into a downtown walking corridor.

The City Council this week removed the status of a pedestrian mall from a block of Coombs from First Street north to the Pearl Street parking garage. Instead, the pathway known as Coombs Street Plaza will become a one-way northbound route leading drivers to the parking structure, which will accommodate guests at the Archer Hotel Napa scheduled to open in June.

Napa is undoing a project that began in September 2003, when it declared a block of Coombs a vehicle-free plaza and installed gates at the north and south ends to restrict access to those on foot and bicycle. The gates have opened nightly to allow trucks to make deliveries to the Kohl’s department store, directly east of the garage.

The pedestrian mall was meant to create space for nearby businesses to offer outdoor dining and seating, but never caught on with visitors and instead evolved into a vehicle pass-through as the gates were closed less and less often, according to Jeff Freitas, city property manager.

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In 2012, the city’s downtown specific plan recommended returning Coombs Street to vehicular use as part of its goal of improving traffic circulation with the conversion of major east-west streets to two-way use.

LodgeWorks Partners LP, the developer of the Archer, agreed to convert the Coombs Street Plaza into a second garage entrance – joining the existing entry from the Pearl Street side – as a city condition for building the five-story hotel on First Street to the west. The city has allotted 145 garage spaces for hotel guests and 45 more slots for valet parking.

Coombs Street Plaza has been fenced off in recent months amid construction of the Archer and a renovation of First Street Napa, the outdoor shopping arcade once known as Napa Town Center.

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Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.