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Cinedome theater area

The city of Napa is exploring options for redeveloping the parking lot area at the site of the former Cinedome theater, which was razed in 2015. A master plan proposes a combination of townhouses, retail space, and a parking garage for more than 300 vehicles on 5.4 acres on both sides of Pearl Street.

J.L. Sousa, Register file photo

The downtown Napa neighborhood where a movie theater once stood may become home to several dozen residential units in a city with chronic housing shortages – as well as the site of a new parking garage.

City land-use authorities will scrutinize a strategy for developing 5.4 acres around the former Cinedome, the Pearl Street movie house that was demolished in 2015. The master plan, which comes before the Planning Commission on Thursday for an early non-voting review, would provide a road map to building out the theater site and neighboring lots with parking, townhouses, and 22,000 square feet of restaurant and shop space at the north end of downtown.

Properties covered by the plan include the Cinedome lot, which remains owned by the theater’s former owner SyWest Development of San Rafael, as well as city lands south of Pearl Street currently used as surface parking lots. The proposal also includes land the Napa Sanitation District own north of Pearl, home to a dormant pumping station as well as a skateboard park and playground.

The latest version of the plan places a long-awaited multilevel garage on a city-owned 1.2-acre parcel off Pearl Street’s south shoulder opposite West Street, west of the old theater site. Estimated to cost at least $12 million, the parking structure is expected to hold more than 300 vehicles at a time in order to absorb the expected growth of downtown visitor traffic.

Still to be decided is whether Napa pursues a conventional garage with drive-in, drive-out access, or opts for a mechanized structure to allow for a smaller footprint, according to senior planner Michael Walker. A drive-in structure’s larger area requires a portion of the old Cinedome site, which SyWest so far has declined to exchange for city-owned land east of the former theater, he wrote to the commission in a memorandum.

Meanwhile, the master plan targets the 1.2-acre Napa Sanitation block for 45 townhomes – two stories tall along West, Clinton and Yajome streets, and three stories high on the south side facing Pearl Street. On the opposite side of Pearl, Cinedome’s old 0.7-acre footprint would be marked for a mix of residential and office uses – including up to 60 homes – although retail and hotel development also may be allowed.

Two acres south and east of the Cinedome property would form another mixed-use area to serve as a gateway to the nearby Oxbow Commons, which doubles as a summertime downtown park and wintertime flood-relief channel. Ground-floor shops with upstairs housing would form a part of this area, as well as a café and a smaller commercial building.

Because the parcels are controlled by different owners, it remains unclear whether Napa would seek to have all parts of the Cinedome redevelopment take place together, or move ahead with a new parking garage independently of SyWest and Napa Sanitation. In particular, separate build-outs of the SyWest-owned Cinedome site and city-owned lands to the south may require new access roads for emergency and service vehicles, according to Walker.

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Portions of the Cinedome area, including the east half of the Napa Sanitation block, also remain within the Napa River floodplain, limiting what areas can be built up without extensions of the local flood control network that have not yet been funded.

Also Thursday, the Planning Commission will receive a first look at a new Hanlees car showroom planned for Soscol Avenue’s auto row.

The Chrysler dealership, a part of the Gasser Foundation’s housing and commercial development west of Soscol, would be housed in an aluminum-clad 17,780-square-foot building with a winglike roof extending slightly upward at each end, according to plans filed with the city. It would occupy the northwest corner of Soscol Avenue and Saratoga Lane, which will serve as an entryway to Peatman Drive, the north-south access road for the Vista Tulocay housing complex.

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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.