The owner of Silverado Plaza has belatedly won city permission to give the north Napa shopping center its largest overhaul since it opened nearly 40 years ago.
Out will go the plaza’s once-fashionable mansard roof and earth-toned siding. In their place will arrive a metal roof, awnings and other farmhouse-style trimmings in a remodel that finally won Planning Commission approval Thursday night, a month and a half later than planned.
The unanimous ruling frees the owner, Regency Centers Corp. of Walnut Creek, to start the $5 million renovation it announced in January to bring the shopping center’s look in line with the sparer and cleaner-lined architecture that has sprung up around Napa since its 1978 debut.
Construction is expected to last a year, starting with the CVS drugstore on the west and moving across the 84,916 square feet of floor space to Nob Hill Foods in the east. All businesses will stay open as they receive new façades and signage, Regency directors previously announced.
Despite strong reviews for its design from Napa planning staff, the city’s land-use authority delayed a scheduled August vote over concerns about losing the trees, shade and seating that have made Silverado Plaza not only a place for errands, but a popular gathering spot for lunch and conversation.
Revisions offered by Regency’s design partner, the Fitch firm of Arizona, filled in many of the apparent blanks in the center’s landscape – particularly in the central courtyard that has long drawn lunch-hour visitors to the complex at Trancas Street and Soscol Avenue.
Earlier sketches that broke up the stepped, sunken plaza into small segments sized for handfuls of people had drawn planners’ criticism for leaving the grounds too bare, exposed and short on seating. In response, Fitch agreed to expand the plaza’s green areas, include extra benches and chairs, and add two curving shade structures for summertime comfort. A lighter-toned surface will replace the existing, brick-red pavers.
“It’s one of the only shopping center with this kind of outdoor space” to encourage visitors to pause and linger, Commissioner Beth Painter told Jay Adams, Fitch’s design director. “You’ve shown some real thoughts on the comments you’ve heard.”
Silverado Plaza’s west border facing Soscol Avenue also will present a new face to passers-by. An unused gardening center at the CVS will be removed to make room for a drive-through lane, and the redesign will add mock metal windows, a metal overhang and extended wainscoting on the west – all features added at the city’s suggestion after the canceled August vote.
Even as planners finally let the new-look shopping center move ahead, one detail still rankled. The commission required Regency to plant redwoods on the south of the property to replace trees that were cut down in recent months – without notifying the city or those living in nearby apartment buildings.
Commissioner Gordon Huether urged the requirement for new redwoods to restore the screening that long separated homes from the back sides of Silverado Plaza’s storefronts.
“It’s amazing nobody knows how those trees disappeared – those were large redwood trees,” he said. “I find that very rude to the neighbors; they have balconies and from there, they’ll be looking right into trash receptacles.”