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City to evaluate Napa hotel straddling Wine Train line; two historic homes to be moved

City to evaluate Napa hotel straddling Wine Train line; two historic homes to be moved


Napa’s city land-use authority will weigh in on a downtown hotel project – unveiled nearly four years ago – that would straddle the Napa Valley Wine Train line.

The First and Oxbow Gateway Project, which is to feature 74 hotel rooms spread across a pair of four-story buildings, will come before the Planning Commission on Thursday, July 16. Planners will decide whether to recommend the hotel’s approval by the City Council.

Announced by the developer JB Leamer in August 2016 and originally branded Foxbow, the complex would occupy both sides of the Wine Train rails at the southeast corner of First Street and Soscol Avenue, at the edge of an Oxbow district that has become an increasing focus of Napa tourism in recent years.

Each building at First and Oxbow would contain 37 guest rooms, with space for street-level retail stores and two levels of underground parking. The complex would include an interior courtyard and private terraces, along with a swimming pool, spa, fitness center and conference and meeting space, along with a cafe featuring a sculpture garden, according to plans filed by Leamer.

City planners received their first detailed look at the hotel complex in 2018. While the design generally came in for praise, commissioners also expressed caution about placing a multistory building within the Oxbow area’s mostly low-rise and residential environs. Some Napa residents also worried about adding to the number of hotel developments already planned for the Oxbow, a list that includes a hotel planned at the site of the Wine Train depot on McKinstry Street and the Black Elk project announced for the opposite, north side of First Street.

On Thursday, Leamer’s hotel plan took an early step forward when Napa’s Cultural Heritage Commission cleared him to relocate two small historic homes, both more than a century old, from the property marked for the project’s eastern building. Because the single-story houses are listed on Napa’s registry of historic resources, moving them off the property requires the commission to grant a certificate of appropriateness, which affirms that changes to a building – including its location – will not harm its historic character.

One of the buildings, a clapboard-sided dwelling on 731 First St., began life in 1880 as a private home but now hosts the Trade Brewing craft beer taproom. The other home, a shed-roofed structure at 718 Water St., was built in 1900 and remains in use as a private home.

Plans submitted to the city call for both buildings to be placed on a residential lot at 58 Randolph St. in the Napa Abajo neighborhood, an area south of downtown well stocked with homes also dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A portion of the neighborhood north of the relocation site forms the Napa Abajo-Fuller Park Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

At Randolph Street, the two structures would be separated by a driveway from an existing home on the property, with the Water Street house facing the street and the First Street home set back.

First and Oxbow is one of two hotel proposals scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission, which will meet remotely because of the county’s social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

Later Thursday, planners will join forces with the Cultural Heritage Commission for a preliminary look at a five-story, 163-room hotel that would incorporate the Franklin Station post office, an Art Deco landmark on Second Street that opened in 1933 but was shut down after being damaged in the 2014 earthquake. No vote on the Franklin Station hotel is scheduled.

Watch video: Things you won’t see in hotels anymore thanks to COVID-19

The world post COVID-19 will look very different and with some countries relaxing guidelines about which businesses can open, hotels are looking forward to welcoming guests once again. Veuer’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has the story.

You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. 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.

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