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Archer Hotel Napa

This sunlit seating area opens off the lobby at the Archer Hotel in downtown Napa, which opened in November and added 180 rooms to the city's growing stock of hotel space.

The heart of Napa continued its transformation into a high-rent tourist hub in 2017, a trend symbolized by – but not limited to – the opening of a multistory luxury hotel downtown.

2017 saw the opening or expansion of 21 storefronts in the central business district, including a dozen devoted to food, wine or craft beer, according to an annual report on downtown construction and business shared with the City Council on Tuesday.

Real estate transactions in downtown and the Oxbow district totaled $43 million for the year, reported Robin Klingbeil, Napa’s senior development project coordinator. While that figure was down from the $89.1 million of property that changed hands in 2016, it included prime locations such as the former Franklin Station post office, now earmarked for an 80-room hotel; the 25,000-square-foot home of the ExerTec fitness center west of the Andaz and Archer hotels on First Street; and a parking lot directly south of the CIA at Copia food, wine and art center.

The highlight of downtown development was the debut of Archer, the 183-room, $70 million lodging that opened in November on the old site of the Merrill’s drugstore at 1230 First St. In addition to being downtown’s largest infusion of hotel rooms since the 2009 arrival of the Andaz immediately west, the Archer adds another high-end eatery, Charlie Palmer Steak, along with a rooftop lounge and spa scheduled to open this spring.

Archer’s opening brought the number of overnight rooms and suites in central Napa to 1,113, including 957 in hotels and another 156 in bed-and-breakfast inns, Klingbeil said.

At street level, the mix of downtown commerce evolved further. While more wine tasting rooms joined an already ample supply, the city core also became home to unorthodox businesses like the coffee-and-workspace Workmix Café and Ella’s Cathouse Center – and even Furniture 4 Less, a family-run furniture store occupying a onetime Salvation Army thrift shop in a seeming throwback to Napa’s pre-tourism past.

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Work also continued in 2017 on future business anchors like First Street Napa, the reboot of the Town Center shopping arcade near the Archer hotel. Four of its 45 spaces are operating, with eight more tenants announced as opening this spring.

Elsewhere, the three-story, mixed-use Wiseman building at Main and Clinton streets was substantially built during 2017 before debuting last week, and renovation continued at the Borreo Building on Soscol Avenue, where the Stone Brewing Co. plans to open a gastropub later this year. The Napa Valley Register’s former Second Street office was torn down starting in July and its ground prepared for Register Square, which will include 51 townhouses and street-level retail space.

Overall, Napa’s real estate transactions have totaled more than $737 million since 1997, according to city figures. That was the year before voters’ approval of the Napa River flood control project that sparked development in areas once prone to damage from rising waters.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

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.