Editorial

Copia helped reshape Napa, now Napa can reshape Copia

2012-01-22T00:00:00Z 2012-02-02T22:00:39Z Copia helped reshape Napa, now Napa can reshape CopiaNapa Valley Register Editorial Board Napa Valley Register
January 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

For all its financial failings, Copia did succeed at one thing: helping to change the landscape of downtown Napa.

Before winemaker Robert Mondavi brought his vision for a wine, food and arts center to the city in 2001, you would have been hard pressed to find a wine-tasting room or high-end restaurant in the downtown area.

Shuttered since 2008, Copia’s lasting legacy is that it helped transform the city from the valley’s layby into a viable tourist destination. Copia’s remains rest in the shadow of downtown’s new food and wine culture.

Now, more than three years after Copia’s bankruptcy, developer Keith Rogal and company are busy searching out new uses and new ideas to bring Copia back to life.

What should that reincarnation look like? What fits in this new Napa?

To get to the specifics of what would be most viable in that location, we should be asking what Napa is missing.

Copia’s tragic flaw was that it didn’t appeal to its local base. Napans had little use for it. For as well as the facility catered to food and wine connoisseurs, it couldn’t survive on that market alone.

For a new Napa business to be wholly successful, it needs to appeal to both tourists and local residents. It needs to have a consumer base in Napa to support it when the tourism season ebbs.

“Mixed use” is the phrase most often connected to the future of the site. Office space here? A restaurant there? Retail in between?

Maybe a diverse collection of shops, eateries and small businesses is right, or maybe one tenant could turn the unorthodox site into a company campus, á la a branch of Google or some technology business.

If “mixed use” is the answer, that mix should include a diversity of clientele. New businesses need to appeal to Napans as much as they do visitors.

If, instead, one company wants to plant its flag here and lease Copia’s giant space complete with its theater and gardens, then that business needs to contribute local jobs to the economy and become an active force in this city’s future.

Rogal + Associates appreciate this need, which is why it has solicited the advice of Napans in helping to shape what Copia becomes.

The group has set up an email address (oxbowrenewal@rogal-associates.com) so that you can share your thoughts and perhaps help bring new business to Napa. You can also visit rogal-associates.com for more information.

So, Napa? What do you need?

What do you leave town to get? To eat? Or to do?

What kind of retail is Napa missing? What food do locals most crave? What activities are unsupported or lack the necessary resources? What jobs do we want?

Rogal wants to know. It is a rare thing for a private developer to embrace public input in such an open way.

We applaud the community outreach.

Now it’s up to residents to seize that opportunity. City planning should always include the participation of its residents.

If Copia is to have a successful future, it will have to address the needs of Napans.

Copyright 2016 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(23) Comments

  1. Steelhead
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    Steelhead - January 22, 2012 6:47 am
    Might as well turn it into a skate park I think.
  2. Napa
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    Napa - January 22, 2012 8:24 am
    If Rogal really wants to put something in Copia's place. It would be nice and a welcome change of pace for something where ALL of Napa could go.

    Rather than just for the elite and rich like the original Copia was like a local Napa history museum or something along those lines. I realize Yountville already has one, but one here in this city that focuses only on our city's past would be possibly affective that could work in concordance with our
    local Historical Society.
  3. farmboy
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    farmboy - January 22, 2012 10:15 am
    Keith Rogal has got to be the most patient & forgiving human being in this county. For the last 3 years, people in Napa have repeatedly attacked his character and expressed nothing but hatred towards him because he and his partners bought an abandoned eye sore piece of contaminated property and had the gall to want to clean it up and develop it. It has gone way beyond criticism of the project, which is certainly fair game, and turned to personal demonization. Why he would ask Napans to give him input on this project,(or anything for that matter), is amazing. "Can I have some more abuse please?"
  4. funnyme
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    funnyme - January 22, 2012 10:54 am
    Steelhead said: "Might as well turn it into a skate park I think."

    LIKE!


    A [convertible] Night Club!
    Growing up there was a place where all we tweens and teens went in the afternoon/early evening to hang out with friends and listen to music, sometimes 'live music' from some local bands and sometimes just a 'volunteer DJ' while we sipped something (sodas, milkshakes, smoothies, coffee), there was a cover charge equivalent to a movie ticket or so and a clause where they "Refused Service" at their discretion. And then they will close between 7:00 and 9:00PM to prepare for the Night Crowds (the "older kids" = over 21) to do the same but where alcoholic drinks were an option as well. It was very successful for many years.

    I think YES!




  5. BennyD
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    BennyD - January 22, 2012 12:41 pm
    The Oxbow is an obvious model of success. Copia can extend that success in many different ways. I would add that getting the CIA or UC Davis involved in a satellite campus directly located in a culinary market place will not only benefit the advanced students needing to learn in a real world environment, locals and tourists would benefit with cutting edge and progressive trends coming to the culinary scene. The theater the perfect showcase for "foodie" and other related art films/lectures from the "indie" world.
  6. wilycoyote
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    wilycoyote - January 22, 2012 2:04 pm
    I have no confidence that Mr. Rogal will do the best for Napa. Don't forget, he wants to develop the Napa Pipe property into a community with over 7,000 people including over 1,000 children but he will not provide adequate schools for them. Parents will have to drive their kids to schools 5 to 10 miles away. That is not the best for Napans.
    Cutting corners on any development is disastrous to the community. Look at the two newest Wiseman buildings on Main Street - 4 or 5 stories tall and no parking? No schools, no parking...pretty soon taxpayers will be facing higer taxes and school bonds to provide these necessay items that the developers get away without providing.
  7. youasked
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    youasked - January 22, 2012 3:03 pm
    I would love to see a Beer Garden! I love all the wine and french food, but lets mix it up shall we?
  8. NapaCitizen
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    NapaCitizen - January 22, 2012 4:33 pm
    Oxbow does not cater to locals. Its overpriced.

    If Rogal thinks getting into other things such as COPIA or NVTPA/rail "study" will allow his Napa Pipe development to manifest, he's got another thing coming.

    Does anyone else see his involvement in these other projects as self-serving?
  9. farmboy
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    farmboy - January 22, 2012 8:36 pm
    NapaCitizen said: "Oxbow does not cater to locals. Its overpriced.If Rogal thinks getting into other things such as COPIA or NVTPA/rail "study" will allow his Napa Pipe development to manifest, he's got another thing coming.Does anyone else see his involvement in these other projects as self-serving? "
    Thank you NapaCitizen for making my point...and so it begins..
  10. ruralresident
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    ruralresident - January 22, 2012 9:16 pm
    In significant part, Copia failed because local participation was not only ignored but snubbed. Locals were so offended and put off, by Copia, they discouraged their own guests from visiting. Copia was responsible for its own bad reputation and eventual demise. If Copia had embraced the Napa community and realized the value of community support it most likely would have had a very different outcome.

    The new/future management of Copia needs to learn from this history. Its success will require the inclusion and support of the Napa community.
  11. 5th Generation Napan
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    5th Generation Napan - January 23, 2012 8:19 am
    OK I'll bite. Bring back the Friday nite flix with the commentator (that guy was great!), Bring in CIA, for students and add classes for us commonors,(consolidate the adult/senior ed & parks rec. food classes there). Bring in the ch. 28 group and start local foodies shows of the west. Food network is making a forturne and could use some local competition. Establish the museaum, about Local History! California, Napa Ag History. Napa was the local Ag. supplier for the nation west of the mississippe (Thompson Farms, Sunsweet, etc.) up until the turn of the 1900's. Knotts berry farm started here, local manufacturing was massive here with leather goods, Ag goods and transportation. All this ties into whats here today. A summer stage for garage bands and dreamweavers. Allow public fundraisers in the main hall. A restaurant program thru napa college running a restaurant for the public and a gardens program would be great. Convention rooms. Make it for the locals and the tourist will come.
  12. kgirl64
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    kgirl64 - January 23, 2012 8:47 am
    Mske it a place for all ages- like a skating rink / movie theater with retail food art music- fun interesting,exciting for locals!!! .
  13. Valleylocal
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    Valleylocal - January 23, 2012 8:59 am
    Keith and friends - Think nightlife! Think dancing! You have a theatre and restaurant, use them. Napans have no place to dance. Kids have to go out of town for proms. Yes day use as well but keep people who want to have fun IN TOWN. Give visitors who just sit at tables a place to go after dinner. Please.
  14. Suz812
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    Suz812 - January 23, 2012 9:26 am
    Friday Night Flix, beer garden, CIA classes. Love all these types of ideas. Extending Oxbow is also a great idea. Some aspects of Oxbow are definitely over priced but some outlets are not, Ca'Moni, Hog Island, Kitchen Door. I am a local and regularly visit Oxbow on my own and with guests. An Oxbow-type place with also a place to see GOOD movies, documentries and indie films. If you want to see a good movie you have to drive to Cameo or Sebastini. Have a wine bar/restaurants to dine before the show......
  15. NapaCitizen
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    NapaCitizen - January 23, 2012 10:50 am
    farmboy said: "Keith Rogal has got to be the most patient & forgiving human being in this county. For the last 3 years, people in Napa have repeatedly attacked his character and expressed nothing but hatred towards him because he and his partners bought an abandoned eye sore piece of contaminated property and had the gall to want to clean it up and develop it. It has gone way beyond criticism of the project, which is certainly fair game, and turned to personal demonization. Why he would ask Napans to give him input on this project,(or anything for that matter), is amazing. "Can I have some more abuse please?" "


    Hey Farmboy - We don't like the annexation and development of the Ghisletta property any better. Self-interest is self-interest. His involvement in these other projects is a conflict. I'm not attacking his character, just calling him out on his motives. If you don't like it, too bad.
  16. NapaCitizen
    Report Abuse
    NapaCitizen - January 23, 2012 10:52 am
    wilycoyote said: "I have no confidence that Mr. Rogal will do the best for Napa. Don't forget, he wants to develop the Napa Pipe property into a community with over 7,000 people including over 1,000 children but he will not provide adequate schools for them. Parents will have to drive their kids to schools 5 to 10 miles away. That is not the best for Napans.Cutting corners on any development is disastrous to the community. Look at the two newest Wiseman buildings on Main Street - 4 or 5 stories tall and no parking? No schools, no parking...pretty soon taxpayers will be facing higer taxes and school bonds to provide these necessay items that the developers get away without providing."

    Thank you wilycoyote for making MY point.
  17. Epicuria
    Report Abuse
    Epicuria - January 23, 2012 11:56 am
    Down through time visionaries--those special few of talent and tenacity, will be attacked by those with impaired vision--those stuck in the past, resentful of the ebb and flow of their times, envious of success, who prefer pessimism to optimism.

    There are those who offer ways to meet a challenge and make something work, and those, broadly speaking, who are defeated by a challenge and only raise objections.

    This tension forms the dilectic of life. But true visionaries also have the capacity to bring others along-- those independents with a natural skepticism, who have to be persuaded by the merits of emerging solutions. Gradually, the naysayers grow fewer and become isolated, wrapped in their self righteousness. And so society and its communities and its projects ultimately prevail and we move forward.
  18. Paddy
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    Paddy - January 23, 2012 10:50 pm
    I'm not sure who writes the editorials for the NVR but the author appears to new to the Napa Valley. Copia is an embarrassment to Napa and always has been. Those who criticized its charter from conception were dead right.

    Perhaps its greatest value was bringing the Ritz to the neighborhood. If the Ritz doesn't pan out than we're stuck with a monolith to good intention that went horribly wrong.

    I don't believe any decision should be made on this building's resurrection until we first know what Ritz is going to do. If they decide to build than Copia, or whatever it will be called, should compliment the hotel. If Ritz pulls out than Rogal will really earn his the fees he’s being paid to come up with something timely, smart and profitable.

    I have some fine ideas but would expect Rogal to compensate me accordingly. Is the NVR’s call for suggestions to Rogal’s website an indication they don’t believe he can do a good job? Of course not, it would go against their conflicted interests.
  19. garretth37
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    garretth37 - January 24, 2012 1:47 pm
    I don't see how Copia has even helped shaped Napa, i know of few people that went there. A Tourist might come for the weekend, the Local has to live here years upon years. Find something with the Local in mind but the tourists might come and see.
  20. farmboy
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    farmboy - January 25, 2012 9:44 am
    NapaCitizen, who is "we" re these other "lands"? You question Rogal's motives? He runs a business that develops commercial/residential projects. You question why a business like that would be motivated to bid on redeveloping Copia? Or why his company would want to make a return on their investment in Napa Pipe? So, you just don't think legal businesses should have a right to make a profit, pay their staff, & pay their taxes? Does this apply to other segments of the economy too, or just developers? Or just this developer? What kinds of projects would it be o.k. for this developer to be involved with according to you and whoever makes up the "we"? Maybe you could give Rogal a list so he knows what business decisions are o.k. with "we".
  21. reason-ator
    Report Abuse
    reason-ator - January 25, 2012 11:59 am
    farmboy said: "NapaCitizen, ... You question Rogal's motives? He runs a business that develops commercial/residential projects. "

    Yes. Exactly.

    Do you think he is a benevolent man who wants what's best for US ?

    He has his neck out big-time, and he's scrambling to save the money he sunk into the swamp south of town. He may even be under pressure from his partnes for getting them into the mess he's trying to create.

    DO you REALLY think his interest in Copia STOPS at its property lines ? Really ?

    He has a business. He needs to profit from the land he bought. He has exposed his character (KeepNapaNapa?), and now he's trying to primp up his reputation in hopes the resistance to his boondoggle will soften.

    To think anything else is either naive or the thought of his patners and/or employees at this time

    Believe me, if he can't build at Napa Pipe, he'll be offering swamp land in Napa Valley, & he may even throw in a bridge. And if he can, profit will trump all else .

  22. Red Dirt Town
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    Red Dirt Town - February 26, 2012 7:41 pm
    Ouch! The truth hurts!

    The only part of the failed Copia that locals like, enjoy, use or celebrate is the garden.

  23. Concerned Citizen
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    Concerned Citizen - April 23, 2012 8:38 am
    I like the idea of a community skating rink; either ice or for roller skates. I also don't agree that "copia helped to reshape Napa.." No it didn't. It was an overblown monument to an industry that enjoys enough media and financial contribution. Copia was unnecessary and, because of this, failed. The area should be dedicated to Napans and our children; young adults. If it 'shaped' Napa...it was in a negative (income flow, contribution to the betterment of the WHOLE community; not just one very small aspect) contribution. Now, let's make it a positive one.
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