An empty lot at the corner of Permanente Way and California Boulevard, usually the seasonal home of a Christmas tree business, will become a small retail center.
Southern California developer Diba Real Estate Investments plans to build a multi-unit commercial development called Mayacamas Shops at the 1-acre site south of Trancas Street in north Napa.
The parcel will include two buildings totaling about 14,564 square feet. As many as seven retail spaces will be available, two of which could be food service or higher-intensity uses. Two driveways, one on Permanente Way and one on California, will allow traffic access.
The Planning Commission approved the project on Aug. 20 after commissioners voiced concerns about additional auto and pedestrian traffic in an already congested area and asked the city to consider safety features.
Commissioner Art Roosa said that although the project meets city requirements, he thought the project didn’t have enough parking spaces to accommodate peak visit times. Shoppers at Napa Crossing North are already used to scrambling to find an open parking space in the popular California Boulevard center.
“At certain times of the day there aren’t enough parking spaces” at Napa Crossing North, he said in a phone interview.
If Mayacamas Shops and Napa Crossing customers start using the Walgreens and Mechanics Bank lot for overflow parking, “I’m not sure those tenants will be happy with extra cars in their parking spaces,” said Roosa.
Commissioner Paul Kelley referred to Napa Crossing as “a parking nightmare.”
The commissioners predicted a significant increase in foot and auto traffic and wondered what kind of pedestrian crossing could be added between the new project and Napa Crossing North.
“It has a high traffic use. People are using California Boulevard to avoid the highway or Jefferson Street,” said Commissioner Mike Murray.
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City transportation planner Lorien Clark said the city is considering adding a traffic signal to California Boulevard at Permanente Way. But that wouldn’t happen for as long as two years. While the intersection is currently operating under allowed conditions, “We could explore a flashing beacon” in the meantime, she said.
Aesthetically, the commission liked the project. “The design is very nice,” said Murray.
“It fits well with the other centers in the area,” said Roosa.
Because the commercial development has more than three tenants, city code allows the developer to allocate 25 percent of the property to a higher-intensity use such as a bank or restaurant.
But after being pressed about parking and congestion concerns, the applicant agreed to reduce that allocation to 15 percent.
Spokesperson Steve Wakeman, of the Sacramento architecture firm CSHQA Inc., pointed to the success of the adjacent Napa Crossing North as one example of why the owners wanted to create the project.
“Bottom line, the client is willing to work with the development and make it a successful one,” said Wakeman.
Project representative Danial Sefavi said he hoped to break ground in the next six months and open with tenants in 2016.
Steve’s Trees, the seasonal business that operated at the busy corner for many years, will be relocating to Napa Valley Expo this year.