First Street Napa Update

Progress continues at the First Street Napa complex which has a projected the opening of its first new stores in 2017.

J.L. Sousa, Register

Napans anxious to hear about the new tenants planned for First Street Napa, formerly the Napa Town Center, are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.

More than half a dozen leases have been signed and final lease terms are in the works for about 20 other tenants, but developer Zapolski Real Estate can’t reveal any names yet, said representative Nicole Mori.

Contingencies with the other tenants prohibit any such release of information, she said.

“We’re steadily working toward getting those contingencies crossed off so we can announce” tenants. That could happen as soon as this winter, said Mori.

The First Street redevelopment plan, valued at more than $100 million, includes more than 40 shops and restaurants and the 183-room luxury Archer hotel. The hotel is being developed by LodgeWorks Partners.

Developer Todd Zapolski and partner Trademark Property Company last said the center could begin opening in spring 2016. However, the new estimate for opening of the retail shops is now spring 2017, the same time frame as the adjacent Archer Napa hotel.

“Leasing is very tricky,” said Mori. “We’re trying to curate the best of the best. It takes time.”

Napa city Planning Commissioner Gordon Huether said it is normal for such projects to take longer than originally expected.

“It’s nobody’s fault, that’s the reality. It’s better to go slow and get it right than to go fast and get it wrong,” he said.

Mori said the current tenant mix at First Street Napa is about 40 percent local or regional tenants and 60 percent national tenants.

“We’re excited about our progress,” she said. The center, accompanied by the Archer hotel, will be a “fantastic addition to the market and truly transformative for the entire region.”

Progress on a new building at 1300 First St., a part of the center once home to a Pacific National Bank building, became more apparent last week. A sleek, contemporary façade with block-like architectural details at the top now faces the street.

The developer recently submitted First Street Napa tenant design guidelines to the city for review.

The guidelines include references to examples of storefronts by such retailers such as Tiffany & Co., La Perla, Anthropologie, Club Monaco and Paul Smith.

Storefronts should complement the ambiance of the center “through the creative use of quality materials … and visually engaging and well-integrated details,” said the design guidelines. Materials could include stone veneers, metal slats, laser cut metal sheets, stone and porcelain tile. Doors should be constructed of wood, steel or “high quality” aluminum.

The guidelines prohibit the permanent use of materials like wood grain plastic laminates, plastic plants, plywood paneling, simulated wood, brick or stone in storefront “display zones.”

Mori acknowledged that submitting design guidelines indicates leasing progress.

“Once you get to the point where you need to develop tenant guidelines, that means you are giving them out to tenants that have signed leases,” she said.

The type of tenant dictates how soon those stores could start tenant improvements, said Mori. For example, a new restaurant would need more time than a retailer.

The currently signed tenants will be located in various locations in the mall and will occupy a range of sizes.

First Street Napa spaces range from about 500 to 7,000 square feet. Those sizes could change, depending on how the former McCaulou’s department store gets subdivided, said Mori.

There’s been definite interest in leasing the former McCaulou’s space, she said, but not in its entirety. “It will be broken up” into smaller units, she said.

The longtime downtown Napa department store closed after the August 2014 and never reopened.

Zapolski Real Estate doesn’t have any signed leases for the building, “but I know we have letters of intent out for McCaulou’s spaces.”

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The only remaining tenant of the old mall, Kent Gardella of Napa Valley Jewelers, said he plans on staying in the center and is working on a new lease for a new space.

Business has been slow, but he’s determined to stick with the project.

“It’s not a fantasy anymore,” he said. “I can look over every day and see the hotel taking shape. It’s amazing.”

Gardella said he does not have a specific date for when or where he will move.

However, he’s undaunted. “The prospects are great,” he said. In the coming months, “you’ll start filling the shops and you’ll have an area unlike any.”

Huether reflected on how Napa is changing during a phone interview while traveling through the Hudson Valley area of New York state. Some of the cities in that area have nothing like the development that Napa is experiencing.

“The people that complain about Napa’s progress, they might want to visit downtown Vallejo or downtown Poughkeepsie,” said Huether.

“I think the world of Todd for taking the risk on Napa,” said Huether. “Good for him and good for us.”

“We should name a street or at least an alley” after Zapolski, he said.

That’s not to say Huether doesn’t have concerns. There can be “collateral damage” of success, he said, including housing affordability, parking and traffic.

But “the short answer is that economically, it’s a huge benefit to our city coffers and that’s supposed to translate into benefits in the local community.”


Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.