The Napa Valley Wine Train has sold the first three of as many as 17 excess parcels of unused land, generating millions for the rail tour business.
“We are reinvesting in the business (and) funding our real estate projects” planned in the area, said Scott Goldie of Brooks-Street, one of the owners of the Wine Train.
The sale of the excess parcels started after Noble House Hotels & Resorts and Brooks Street bought the Wine Train from the founding DeDomenico family in 2015.
The latest transaction is a triangle-shaped corner of land between a gas station and the railroad tracks at the southwest corner of Highway 29 and Redwood Road. The Wine Train sold the lot for $1.4 million, according to the transfer tax paid.
The three-quarter-acre lot was sold in early March to the owners of the neighboring Union 76 gas station property. According to the Napa County recorder’s office, the buyer is a company called Magnolia Valley LLC located on Westminster Way in Napa.
Wine Train’s parcel actually went under a small portion of the gas station property, so it made sense to sell to the gas station property owner, Goldie said.
“Those pieces needed to go together,” he said. “And we don’t need it to run the railroad.”
The owners of the Union 76 property could not be reached for a comment.
This isn’t the first time the mostly vacant parcel and the gas station have been the focus of change. A number of years ago, developers floated an idea to redevelop the two parcels, but those plans did not progress.
Other parcels that the Wine Train has sold include land at 7855 St. Helena Highway, across the street from the Oakville Grocery store. That was sold in September 2017 for $2 million to the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
The land remains leased by a business called Oakville Pump and as vineyard land, said Jennifer Putnam, executive director of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
An office building at 1050 Adams St. in St. Helena was sold for $4.4 million in October 2016. The buyer was the Daniel Capp revocable trust.
During a January forum on expanding passenger rail service in the North Bay, Goldie said the train business was considering moving its maintenance and food service operations farther south to Napa Valley College, which could partner with the rail excursion line in providing hospitality and technical instruction.
That would mean that the Wine Train rail yard west of Soscol Avenue could be redeveloped.
Early estimates by the Wine Train point to between 100 and 200 units of multi-family housing at its service yard, a narrow strip bracketed by Soscol’s Auto Row to the east and the Vine Trail and Napa River to the west. About 9 acres west of the Eighth Street stub end could be redeveloped, according Goldie.
“If we’re really thoughtful on the plan, I think there will be pretty wide support,” predicted Goldie at the time.
Efforts to monetize the Wine Train landholdings have already led to plans for a 148-room resort hotel on McKinstry Street to replace its main station house, and officials also have discussed renovating the Rutherford depot – 147 years old but empty and dilapidated – for use as a café and scenic stopover for Wine Train passengers.
Goldie also said the Wine Train was considering some other excess property in Napa for possible workforce housing. He was not ready to discuss that further.