Groundbreaking is one crucial step closer for Napa Pipe, the project 15 years in the making that’s felt, at times, like an on-again, off-again relationship. The 154-acre site on the now-dormant Kaiser Steel industrial property will host housing, retail, green space and Costco.
City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the developer’s latest updates, echoing the Planning Commission’s decision from last month. It permitted the re-zoning of certain tracts of land to make space for more comfortable placement of the 945 anticipated residential units and create a better connection between the big-box store and its gas station, with fewer bridges over the railroad tracks.
Tom Marshall, the executive vice president of the Oakland-based developer Catellus, described the project as a “full-resource community.”
“We want to give people a reason to be in Napa Pipe and not leave,” he said.
After last month’s Planning Commission meeting, the project was waiting on approval from Napa County on two items: its compatibility with the airport to the south and the annexation of the remaining plot of 43-acres to the city. It received the go-ahead on both in recent weeks.
Marshall presented a revised timeline to Council. Residential construction is slated to begin in the second quarter of next year with home sales starting a few months later.
As for Costco, construction should kick off at the tail end of next year and open during the second quarter of 2022.
“Once they get started, it really doesn’t take them very long to build a Costco,” Marshall said, talking about the efficiency of the nationwide big-box store’s construction tactics.
Catellus won’t have to present the outstanding final maps and improvement plans in front of City Council again, assuming they adhere to the development plan. This is thanks to a fast-track amendment approved Tuesday that allows city staff to review and approve all proposals to ensure the project continues in a timely fashion.
Napa Pipe’s future has been transformed and re-transformed many times since the initial land acquisition in 2004. Early ideas put up to 3,200 townhomes on the property, at the time falling outside the city limits. Building a Calistoga-sized community on that kind of acreage raised red flags for the city of Napa, which would bear the brunt of the traffic- and water-related impacts, and pitted them against some of their county counterparts, who were hopeful such residential density would make it easier to meet state affordable housing requirements.
The current iteration – or at least something more closely resembling it – started to really take shape in 2013. Napa County approved construction, agreeing to knock the number of residential units down to 945 – of which 140 will be set aside for low- and very low-income and another 44 to 50 deed-restricted lots for moderate-income — and securing Costco as the anchor. From there, negotiations ensued on the transference of the land from county to city hands.
Though the land now falls entirely within the jurisdiction of the city of Napa, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill last fall that allows Napa County to take credit for affordable housing at Napa Pipe and count it towards state-mandated requirements.
Another key part of getting the agreement involves the nonresidential housing impact fee. Per the original agreement in 2013, Catellus will be subject to the county’s non-residential housing impact fees, which are less stringent than the city’s. However, all the money collected will go straight back to the city’s coffers, exclusively allocated for the development of the affordable housing sites on the Napa Pipe property.
In addition to the housing and flagship storefront, Napa Pipe will include a 225-bed senior/assisted living facility, a 150-room hotel, community co-working spaces, a five-acre neighborhood farm and additional retail and restaurant options.
Council also discussed plans to extend the Vine Trail from Kennedy Park to the the waterfront park that buttresses the housing subdivision and requested the developer create a master plan for how it will meet the city’s public art requirement.
Feel free to reach Carly Graf at @carlykgraf, firstname.lastname@example.org or (713)-817-4692.