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Real Estate

COVID-19: Calistoga puts purchase of Napa County Fairgrounds on hold

Tubbs building

Calistoga's purchase of the Napa County Fairgrounds is on hold due to financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

After more than two years of negotiations, and arrangements for the final stages of purchase nearly in place, the City of Calistoga will not be purchasing the Napa County Fairgrounds from the county after all.

At least for now.

Due to the unprecedented conditions associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the city said the transaction should not move forward at this time.

“It’s an amicable agreement between the city and the county,” said Calistoga Mayor Chris Canning. “We’re terminating with the right to revisit.”

Though the city has been in very good standing financially, with a triple A bond rating, because of future TOT tax projections and the collapse of the bond market, it’s not feasible at this time, Canning added.

The matter will be discussed at a city council meeting at 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 5.

In August 2019, the City of Calistoga reached an agreement with Napa County to purchase 34.3 acres of the Napa County Fairgrounds property for $7.2 million.

The city was expected to hand financial arrangements for approval to the county April 13. At that time, the 60-day escrow period was to begin, putting the closing date in late June or early June.

The city was to pursue a 30-year loan, which was estimated to generate $9 million toward the sale.

The city initially had until Dec. 18 to complete its due diligence and another 60 days after that to close on the property. However, in November, the city requested an extension after discovering the county was tangled in a dispute with race supporter David Abreu over an estimated $1.4 million in upgrades he made to the Speedway with his own money in 2017.

In January, the city asked the county for another extension, as the Abreu matter was still unresolved. The city also wanted more time to confer with legal staff on whether to pursue an environmental study on the property. The property is fraught with years of neglect and is in need of substantial infrastructure improvements including ADA accessibility, sewer upgrades, and roof and/or building replacements.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.

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