American Canyon’s strawberry patch may be replaced by a hotel project discussed last week by the city’s Planning Commission.
Napa Valley Hospitality, LLC is planning to purchase a 2-acre parcel on the eastside of Highway 29 between the Palby’s Junction building and the Fairfield Suites Hotel to develop a Hilton Home2 Suites hotel.
The parcel in question would include the strawberry patch, a local roadside attraction that has sold fresh fruit for at least a decade, located at 91 Antonina Ave.
One planning commissioner lamented the possible loss of the strawberry field if the hotel is built.
“While I certainly understand the desire to sell [the land],” said Commissioner Eric Altman, “I will miss the strawberry patch, and I will miss the fresh strawberries.”
Operators of the strawberry patch, who don’t own the land, did not speak at the Planning Commission meeting on July 17. Property owner Pierre Freskan said he supports the building of another hotel in American Canyon.
“I feel it would be good for the city,” Freskan told the Planning Commission.
Representatives of Napa Valley Hospitality, LLC and Noble Hospitality, Inc., which is also involved in the project, approached the commission requesting two zoning amendments to make building a Home2 Suites hotel feasible for the 1.98-acre site.
Currently, the city limits hotel buildings on the eastside of the highway to a height of 42 feet, or three stories. The applicant requested this limit be raised to 54 feet so they can build a four-story hotel.
They also requested the required minimum landscape setback along the highway be reduced from 40 feet to 30 feet to accommodate hotel parking requirements.
Mark Stumm with Noble Hospitality said the changes were necessary to construct a hotel with 100 rooms.
“The project doesn’t work at three stories because financially it doesn’t allow for enough rooms to financially perform,” Stumm told the Planning Commission on July 17. Their written request to the commission stated that a three-story hotel could only have 70 rooms.
“Right now it needs to be 100-plus” rooms, Stumm said. “Our goal is to get to 107” rooms.
He added they could develop the site if it accommodated 99 rooms, “but our preference is to get to 107.”
The Planning Commission approved the changes in building height and landscaping setback on a 3-1 vote. Commissioners Tyrone Navarro, Eric Altman and Crystal Mallare voted in support, while Commissioner Bernie Zipay voted “nay.” Chairman Andrew Goff was absent.
Community Development Director Brent Cooper informed the commission that the 54-foot building height is already allowed on the eastside of the highway for residential and mixed-used structures.
Cooper also noted that the 54-foot height limit and the 30-foot landscaping setback are consistent with the Broadway District Specific Plan, an ambitious redevelopment project that the city wants to undertake along the highway, known locally as Broadway Street.
The Broadway District Specific Plan, whose area includes the strawberry patch parcel, is undergoing review of its draft environmental impact report. But that process won’t be completed until next year, according to Cooper.
Given this time frame, the applicant for the hotel approached the commission to gain the new height limit and landscaping requirement before proceeding with purchasing the 2-acre parcel, which the company is planning to do by September.
With the zoning amendments approved, Stumm said, “We plan to proceed with an abundance of confidence after this meeting” and begin working on the pre-application process for the hotel project.
He said they have not yet crafted any specific site design plans. But he did elaborate on the Home2 Suites hotel model, which he called “one of Hilton’s newest concepts.”
Stumm characterized Home2 Suites as Hilton’s “fastest growing [brand] they’ve ever had.”
“It’s a hotel designed to appeal to almost every type of traveler,” he said. “It’s designed for leisure and business travel, but also [has] an extended stay element. All of the rooms are installed with small kitchenettes.”
Rooms also have a curtain that can be used to separate the seating area from the beds. In-room sofas come with built-in beds.
The hotel would have a complimentary, buffet-style breakfast for guests only, but no bar or restaurant, according to Stumm.
Hilton currently has 115 Home2 Suites in the country with another 200 “in the works,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in the brand and in this area for this particular Home2 Suites” hotel.
The Bay Area has one Home2 Suites in Livermore, with another under construction in South San Francisco, according to a city staff report.
Commissioner Navarro asked Stumm why they want to build a Home2 Suites in American Canyon, particularly since the city already has three hotels.
Stumm said their market research shows there are potential hotel customers not staying in American Canyon who would stop here with the addition of this type of hotel.
“We feel it’s the right product, the right brand for the right market, and it’s a terrific site,” said Stumm. “We just have to make it fit.”