A Napa City Council decision may help the city gather millions of dollars from developers to build up parking supplies in its increasingly busy downtown area.

Parking impact fees paid by downtown builders are set to more than triple with the passage of an ordinance that goes before councilmembers Tuesday night, following an endorsement by the Planning Commission at its July 7 meeting. Under the new terms, projects that currently pay Napa $7,500 for each required vehicle slot will instead pay $23,000, bringing the city closer to the expected cost per space for a future downtown garage with 350 to 400 spaces, which is projected to require $12 million or more.

By raising its parking surcharge, Napa could pull in an extra $3.1 million from downtown buildings that are under construction, have won city approval or are being designed, according to Economic Development Manager Jennifer LaLiberté. The current developer fee has gained Napa $1.15 million since it took effect in 2005.

Such an infusion would cut into much of Napa’s funding gap for a parking structure, adding to the $8 million of parking funds the city expects to have on hand by mid-2017 – including payouts from the developers of the Archer Hotel and the First Street Napa (formerly Napa Town Center) shopping arcade upon their expected openings next spring.

The move to boost parking payments is Napa’s response to the growth of hotels, restaurants and shops in its central business district, which is expected to create a shortage of more than 950 parking spaces within 15 years.

City officials have looked into adding garage space since the 2012 passage of the Downtown Specific Plan, which recommended steps to manage the existing supply and create new ones. In March, the council asked city staff to prepare a fee hike for developers, suggesting rates from $20,000 to $25,000 for each extra space needed to serve a new downtown building.

A city-commissioned study showed an apparent 443-space surplus at peak afternoon hours in July 2014, but commitments of garage and lot space to the Archer Hotel and other businesses effectively left central Napa 79 spaces short, the study indicated. Continued downtown growth is forecast to widen that shortfall to 955 by 2030.

In the meantime, Napa has opened a temporary 147-vehicle lot on the site of the demolished Cinedome movie theater, and is considering carving out 70 more interim parking spaces off Third Street near the Napa Valley Wine Train line. City staff members also are working on a conversion of some three-hour garage spaces to all-day use, as well as possibly installing a paid-parking system in the busiest downtown zones.

Also on Tuesday, the council will decide whether to expand northward a downtown zone where builders can pay into the city parking fund rather than provide on-site vehicle spaces.

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Six properties on Main Street around the Clinton Street crossing would be added to the district, including a parcel at 1300 Main St. where the Wiseman Co. already has won a parking exemption for a three-story office and retail building the city approved last month. (Wiseman also agreed to pay whatever parking surcharge is in effect on the building’s expected April 2017 opening, a sum the company expects will exceed $1 million.)

Vacant buildings that once housed a Salvation Army thrift shop and the Nor-Mar fabrics dealer also would be released from the on-site parking rule. Redeveloping those sites would create demand for as many as 129 more parking slots, LaLiberté wrote the council last week.

The remaining sites already are occupied and are home to Shackford’s Kitchen Store, the 1313 Main wine bar and Toy B Ville.

In other business, the council is scheduled to vote on approving $5 million in bonds sought by the Culinary Institute of America to help renovate and equip the former Copia wine and food center, where the cooking academy will open a branch of its Greystone campus in St. Helena.

The funds would be part of a $40 million bond issue CIA is seeking from the California Statewide Communities Development Authority, which counts Napa among more than 500 member cities and counties. The portion of the funds that CIA would apply to its main Greystone center requires support from the St. Helena City Council.

Any bonds would be obligations of the authority, not the individual cities, according to Community Development Director Rick Tooker.

The culinary school will refit the Copia property with demonstration kitchens for cooking classes, as well as offices, a refurbished outdoor amphitheater and a restaurant occupying the old Julia’s Kitchen. Plans also include a new home for the Greystone-based Vintner’s Hall of Fame and its art collection, as well as a museum to showcase the vintage cookware and tableware collection of the late Chuck Williams, founder of the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware firm.

The renamed CIA at Copia is expected to open in September starting with the restaurant, cooking equipment store and demonstration theaters, with construction to be finished by the end of 2017, according to the institute.

CIA purchased the property at 500 First St. for $12.5 million in November 2015, seven years after Copia shut down amid crumbling attendance figures and $78 million in debt. The academy’s renovation of the building and grounds won Planning Commission approval on July 21.

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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.