Seven years after owner Harry Price received the city’s permission to expand his Napa River Inn, the prelude to the construction of some two dozen guest rooms has finally begun.
The initial phase of the project will create a new service building for the hotel. Construction of new guest rooms is not scheduled to start until late this year.
“It kind of feels like it’s overdue,” said Price in an interview on Tuesday. He called construction of the service building a “first step.”
Green construction fencing now be seen between the parking lot for the hotel and the surrounding Napa Mill businesses and the back of the Napa County Library.
This part of the expansion isn’t glamorous or even that interesting, said Price. “There is still a long way to go.”
“We want to get this out of the way to get everything in gear” for the addition of the new rooms, Price said.
Some 24 to 26 new rooms and suites will be located inside two additions.
The first is a new hotel building that will wrap around the current hotel spa building on Fifth Street.
Then, a third floor will be added to the existing Embarcadero hotel section at the Napa River Inn.
The inn at 500 Main St. currently has 66 guest rooms spread between three buildings along the waterfront.
The expansion was approved by the Napa City Council in 2012.
Before construction could begin, however, Price had to deal with environmental issues. The parking lot is located on the former site of a 19th century coal-gasification plant. Remediation work was needed, as were approvals from government agencies, such as the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.
While the years passed, Price remained committed to the project.
“There wasn’t anything I could do,” he said. “Sometimes you don’t have the option,” except to persevere.
The expansion will eliminate 48 parking spaces for hotel parking. To make up for that, Price bought access to 60 spaces at the next door Fifth Street Garage.
As part of the hotel expansion project, the city approved a licensing agreement with the Napa River Inn, giving it exclusive use of half of the 30 parking spaces on Brown Street behind the library.
Price said he hopes the new service building will be done in May.
The hotel developer would like to start construction on the hotel expansion as soon as November. The two new sections will be built in stages during the winter seasons to minimize the impact on hotel revenues.
“Timing is a big deal” when it comes to hotel construction, he said.
When asked if he felt a sense of accomplishment about finally starting the hotel expansion, Price demurred.
“It’s hard to feel accomplishment,” he said. “All we need is another fire,” earthquake, flood or recession – he ruminated.
“I get excited when I complete something,” not when he starts, said Price.