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Kohl’s abandons move to south Napa

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Napa’s Kohl’s department store won’t be moving from downtown Napa to Soscol Avenue after all.

“I’m sorry to say it didn’t go through,” Gary Van Dam, a broker with Strong & Hayden commercial real estate, said on Tuesday.

“It’s disappointing,” Van Dam said. “A lot of time and effort went into,” securing the Kohl’s lease.

He was referring to a September 2020 announcement that Kohl’s planned to relocate its Napa department store from Parkway Plaza and lease a new 55,000-square-foot building at 333 Soscol Ave. The department store was to be the anchor tenant of the development named Soscol Square.

Once Kohl’s had vacated its downtown space, that would have cleared the way for a $250 million redevelopment of the Parkway Plaza. Those plans included 120 apartments, a 210-room hotel and 35,000 square feet of commercial space for lease. Parkway Plaza, within the northwest corner of Main and First Streets, is owned by Coombs Street LLC of San Ramon.

Ronmor Developers Inc. of Canada is the developer of the 333 Soscol Ave. project. In September 2020 a representative from Ronmor said the Kohl’s lease on Soscol Avenue was in process.

“We’re hoping by this fall to have something concluded” with the Kohl’s lease, said Doug Porozni, vice president at Ronmor, at that time. “I don’t see anything in the way right now to prevent us from doing that.”

The Kohl’s logo was featured on the Soscol Square leasing site map as of May, but by September, the logo was gone. Commercial leasing websites currently advertise that more than an acre of space at the property is available for lease.

Porozni declined this week to comment about the loss of Kohl’s as an anchor tenant at 333 Soscol Ave. A representative from Kohl’s could not be immediately reached to comment on this story.

Van Dam said he could not share other details about the failed lease.

However, he did say that the 55,000-square-foot space at Soscol Square originally intended for Kohl’s could be subdivided. In fact, he’s in active discussions with one group of potential tenants that could take over the building, said the realtor.

Locals hoping that an REI, Nordstrom Rack, Hobby Lobby, Dick’s Sporting Goods or Macy's will come to Napa will be disappointed.

Napa’s population is too small to draw those larger retailers, said Joe Fischer, senior vice president of real estate at Strong & Hayden.

“Napa has always been and will always be a tertiary market for national retailers,” he said.

With larger markets surrounding Napa Valley, such as Solano and Sonoma counties, “we’re just never going to be a top finisher with these national retailers.”

A drive-thru restaurant, either Chick-fil-A or Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, would also have been part of Soscol Square.

However, Chick-fil-A was dropped from the project. Ronmor never said why exactly, but the restaurant faced opposition from several city residents, including members of the city’s LGBTQ community. 

Later, the City Council denied a Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers drive-thru citing the importance of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions created by idling cars.

At that time, Porozni said Ronmor wasn’t willing to move forward without a drive-thru because such a restaurant would be the financial centerpiece of Soscol Square.

Fischer remembers Ronmor "being very forthright that these in-line tenants, including some quick-serve restaurants — one with a drive-thru — made the whole puzzle work.”

He explained that Ronmor likely considered Kohl’s a “loss leader” — a term in the shopping center business for an “anchor” lease “on very favorable terms.”

“Developers will do a loss-leader deal if they know they can bring in a number of 'in-line' and 'shop space' tenants that are more profitable, and all the tenants together 'as one basket' makes a new planned shopping center actually workable," said Fischer. 

While Kohl’s and a drive-thru won’t be part of Soscol Square, Van Dam did confirm two smaller tenants to open Soscol Square: Sourdough & Co. and Juice It Up!

Sourdough & Co. currently lists more than 50 locations on its website. The company is based in El Dorado Hills.

Juice It Up! is a franchised raw juice and smoothie bar company with nearly 100 locations open and in development, according to its website.

If Kohl’s isn’t leaving downtown, what does this mean for the Parkway Plaza redevelopment project?

That hasn’t been announced. Jerry Hunt, a representative of Coombs Street LLC, did not return a phone call to comment on this story.

As of 2020 Zapolski Real Estate, the former owner of Parkway Plaza, maintained “a financial stake” in the redevelopment of Parkway Plaza, according to Andrew Mazotti, a director at Zapolski Real Estate.

Mazotti could not be immediately reached this week to comment on this story.

As for the future of a Kohl’s in Napa, downtown or otherwise, Fischer isn’t optimistic.

“In the end, the existing Kohl’s will go away within the next three to six years and exit the market as it is now retrenching its new store strategy (by focusing) on smaller units in larger demographic areas,” he said.

It's frustrating, said Fischer.

“We had an opportunity to refresh a retailer that provides affordable merchandise here in our backyard, but we lost it,” he said.

The busy scene during a soft opening at Mothers Tacos in Napa. 

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 707-256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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