Napa Pipe

The massive structure of a bridge crane is seen in the late afternoon sun at Napa Pipe. The structure will remain as part of the new development, which includes housing, a hotel and a Costco.

Cleanup of polluted soils could begin by early fall at the Napa Pipe site, clearing the way for construction of a Costco to begin there in 2017.

That’s the timeline that Keith Rogal of Napa Redevelopment Partners envisions. Costco could open its doors in 2018, he said.

“The biggest X-factor in all of this is the remediation,” Rogal said on Thursday. “You have to dig (the soil) out, get it inspected and know it’s done. You’re not done until it’s totally clean.”

Napa Pipe has a long industrial history stretching back to the late 1930s. Companies used the 154 acres along the Napa River as a place to build ships, manufacture oil platforms and fabricate metal pipe.

Oregon Steel Mills ended this industrial activity when it closed its doors in 2004. The site has since sat vacant, awaiting a planned transformation that is to include up to 945 homes, parks, trails, a hotel, a retirement community, offices – and, as the debut project, a Costco.

But before this rebirth can happen, hydraulic oils, diesel, solvents and other remnants of that industrial past must be cleaned up. About 122,000 cubic yards of soil – enough to fill more than 10,000 10-wheel dump trucks—must be excavated, according to the state Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Rogal estimates the cleanup cost at $15 million. Napa Redevelopment Partners is working with the California Statewide Communities Development Authority to form a community facilities district on the property to finance bonds.

People driving on Highway 29 over the Butler Bridge near the Grape Crusher statue can see Napa Pipe to the north. Rogal expects that sight to include big excavators digging up dirt within a few months.

Some of the dirt can be cleaned on the site through aeration by placing it in piles for up to 12 months, Rogal said. Some of the dirt will have to be hauled away.

Napa Pipe site won’t be stripped of all vestiges of its industrial past. Plans call for such features as the four dry docks and a huge, yellow, rusting gantry crane to remain and become unique design features in the new community.

Meanwhile, in coming weeks Napa Redevelopment Partners plans to take steps to annex 111 acres of commercial property, including the Costco site, to the city of Napa. The remaining 43 acres targeted for homes is to be annexed later.

The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Napa County approved the annexation on Sept. 22, 2015. But the land can’t officially enter the city’s borders until various lot line adjustment are made.

“To use a phrase, the ball is presently within the developer’s court,” city of Napa Community Development Director Rick Tooker said.

And the clock is ticking. LAFCO Executive Officer Brendon Freeman said the commission has one year from annexation approval to issue a certificate of completion. Otherwise, the annexation proceeding is terminated or the property owner needs to request and receive an extension.

Rogal said everything will be completed for the annexation within the one-year deadline of the LAFCO vote. Napa Redevelopment Partners had no need to rush and has focused energy on other aspects of the project.

Napa Pipe is located at 1025 Kaiser Road near Napa Valley Commons. The redevelopment project began as a proposal in late 2006, with hours of public hearings and thousands of pages of documents and studies needed to obtain county and city approvals.

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.