Napa civic center project

Napa officials have said the estimated $121 million cost of a new First Street city administrative building and police station, shown in this artist's rendering, is to be covered through room, property and sales taxes from a hotel-housing-retail complex to be built on the present City Hall's Second Street block. The City Council has voted to create a special authority to help issue construction bonds for the four-story structure.

If Napa goes ahead with plans for a combined civic center and police building, it will have a tool with which to borrow the millions of dollars needed for its new headquarters.

City Council voted this week to create a special agency needed to issue construction bonds on a four-story city hall envisioned for downtown First Street, at the site of the Community Services Building. The City of Napa Industrial Development Agency would become the instrument for funding the civic center, the heart of a redevelopment plan estimated to cost more than $120 million.

The plan has been the subject of recent community criticism for its design and expense. Some have questioned the need for the project, while others want the city to redesign the civic center and move it to county-owned land on Third Street at Coombs Street.

While Napa has not scheduled any vote on actually issuing bonds, forming the agency is a necessary step to do so under state law. Such financing requires the use of a joint-powers agency of at least two bodies, and Napa’s arrangement is expected to involve both the council and the new special authority – a body similar to other agencies that previously have borrowed funds for projects such as fire station upgrades and an expansion of the current police headquarters on Second Street.

All five City Council members would serve on the development agency’s board of directors, which also would include a Napa resident chosen by the council and a representative of the Plenary Group, the Los Angeles-based development firm partnering with the city on the civic center.

The special authority will likely meet for the first time Oct. 16, said Finance Director Brian Cochran.

Napa’s civic center would replace not only the existing city hall and police station, but would take in departments currently spread over seven sites. Plans shared by Plenary, which saw its project approved in May 2017, call for about 130,000 square feet of space, along with an annex to the nearby Clay Street parking garage to accommodate 320 vehicles.

To repay its construction bonds, Napa seeks to redevelop the current city hall and police parcel into a mixed-use “superblock” of about 60 condominium units, 170 hotel rooms and retail space to generate room, sales and property taxes. In May, the city announced it was negotiating with an unnamed partner to co-develop the Second Street block it plans to vacate.

City officials have said their cost estimates include about $95.4 million in construction costs as well as the expense of finding temporary office space during construction, which is scheduled to last from 2019 to 2021.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. 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.