Napa’s city land-use authority will have its say whether the Bounty Hunter wine-and-barbecue restaurant can build a new and larger home at what may be downtown’s most prominent corner.
The four-story, 28,180-square-foot edifice, a throwback design lined in stone, metal and wood, would occupy the southwest corner of Main and First streets. Its creation leans on a vote of the city Planning Commission scheduled for Thursday evening.
Occupying 1005 and 1025 First St., the building designed by Taylor Lombardo Architects would replace the present home of the Old West-themed Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits, a block east. The restaurant, wine bar and wine shop would occupy the first floor, with offices, classrooms and conference rooms on the three upper stories.
Planners gave the new Bounty Hunter building generally positive reviews on its first release last spring. But city design staff, while generally upholding its architectural quality, are asking leaders to keep a close eye on the effect that a 60-foot-tall newcomer may have on a Napa cityscape filled with older – and smaller – landmarks.
Maintaining a sense of scale and balance is especially important at a crossing as busy – and as visible to newcomers – as Main and First, wrote Victor Carniglia, a consulting planner, in a memorandum to the commission.
The height and bulk of a structure pushed out to its property lines “has the potential to create a building mass that may visually overwhelm the public right of way at this key intersection,” he said.
Although the metal-clad top floor is set back from the rest of the building, design drawings show mostly vertical lines on the bottom three stories, which are to be clad in stone. Furthermore, the top-story setback of 2 feet on the south would be nearly invisible for those approaching in that direction, adding to its perceived bulk, according to Carniglia.
Bulk aside, the Bounty Hunter proposal gained praise in the city memo as “an outstanding example of high-quality design using quality materials and design elements” reminiscent of downtown buildings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“When this is done, this will look like a 100-year-old building,” the architect Maurice Lombardo told the Planning Commission in April 2016. “This is a great town filled with amazing old buildings, and we want to add to that.”
Bounty Hunter’s founder, Mark Pope, and his business partners acquired several parcels for the restaurant’s new home between 2013 and 2015, then demolished buildings that formerly housed downtown eateries such as the Tuscany and Don Perico.
Builders have estimated the new structure to cost up to $15 million, and construction is expected to last two years.
Pope, who will retire as Bounty Hunter’s chief executive at the end of June, said last year the current home of the Bounty Hunter at 975 First St. will be converted to another business concept to be determined.