Almost 10 years after the original Copia center for food, wine and the arts filed for bankruptcy, the final piece of the former Copia campus has been sold.
Wayne O’Connell of Napa purchased the property, currently used as a parking lot and garden space, on Dec. 29.
He paid $6.5 million for the almost 5-acre lot, according to the transfer tax recorded. The parcel is located on the south side of First Street, opposite the new CIA at Copia. The seller was the Copia Liquidation Trust.
In October, O’Connell submitted a pre-application with the city for a mixed-use residential project of 84 to 124 homes on the parcel, located at 601 and 585 First St.
O’Connell could not be reached this week to comment on the sale. However, in an October interview he said, “We’re trying to deliver a quality project for this important site in the city.”
The project could include 40 two-bedroom or 80 one-bedroom “stacked flats,” 32 townhomes and 12 smaller-sized single-family homes on very small lots.
“We want to explore what is possible” for housing, O’Connell said at that time.
Residential is a natural fit for the spot, O’Connell said. “The one, two and three priorities” for Napa is “housing, housing, housing.”
City planner Kevin Eberle said the next steps for the O’Connell project include assembling and reviewing comments from city staff.
Those comments were not made available as of Tuesday.
After O’Connell files a formal application, the project will go before the Planning Commission and City Council.
Championed by Robert and Margrit Mondavi, Copia first opened to much acclaim in 2001.
However, after struggling with low visitor numbers and high debt, it closed abruptly in November 2008. That closure left dozens of staff and many vendors unpaid. The bankruptcy and settlement processes dragged on for years. In 2012, many of the Copia artworks and assets were sold at a public auction.
In 2015, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) bought the north part of the campus. Last February, the CIA opened a branch campus of the private culinary college at 500 First St.
Today, the CIA at Copia offers cooking classes, wine and beverage “explorations,” chef demonstrations, wine tasting classes, events and more.
Besides this Copia lot, O’Connell is also working on two other Napa projects.
The first is another housing development, Pietro Place — a proposed 171-unit apartment complex on Central Avenue.
The second is a self-storage project at 1890 Pueblo Ave. near Van Winden’s Garden Center.