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494 Franklin St.

The owners of 494 Franklin St. would like to add three bed and breakfast rooms to the home. 

Another downtown homeowner, the third in recent months, has asked the city for permission to turn a historic house into a B&B. 

The current owners of the Shwarz home, an Arts and Crafts structure located at 494 Franklin St., would like to convert part of their home into a three-room bed and breakfast business.

The home is named after David Shwarz, an early Napa businessman who bought the parcel in 1902.

In early April, the homeowner, Victoria Wehling, filed an application with the city for a use permit to convert part of the single-family dwelling into a small inn.

“We consider ourselves very lucky to own and occupy this historic piece of Napa's cultural heritage,” wrote Victoria Wehling in an email.

The inn will be a family-run operation, with Wehling and her family continuing to live on site. “This is a home for us,” she said.

The family moved into the Shwarz home in 2012, but they aren't new to the area. Wehling grew up on Franklin Street, a short distance away. “This neighborhood is special to me,” she said. 

She and her husband have never been innkeepers. However, “The upkeep on the home is not cheap and so it would be helpful to host people” to help pay for those expenses, she said.

According to their architect, Chris Craiker, the Wehlings would like to convert an existing interior space into three private suites, but will retain the other part of the home as a primary residence. 

All new rooms will be built within the existing home footprint. The current home, which is 2,656 square feet, will be renovated but no new square footage added. 

This B&B “is most compatible with the neighborhood and will not be detrimental to the character of the neighborhood or the city,” Craiker wrote.

Adding such a use to the home “will serve both visitors and locals,” said Craiker, adding that the historic aspects of the home will be preserved and restored using historic colors and materials.

The Wehling's proposal joins several other similar requests. 

The Theodorides family, the new owners of the George E. Goodman Jr. house at 492 Randolph St., asked to convert the historic home from single room occupancy to a nine-room inn. While some neighbors objected to those housing units being converted to overnight visitor lodging, the Planning Commission voted in favor of the conversion in March.

Marc Porat and Claire Tomkins, the new owners of the Thomas Earl House at 1221 Seminary St., would like to convert a dilapidated single family home into a 10-room group retreat center.

Neighbors have raised objections about a single-family home being converted for use as overnight accommodations. The city’s planning commission is still reviewing that application.

Owners of the Cedar Gables Inn at 486 Coombs St. recently asked to add six new rooms. After a review on April 4, the Napa City Planning Commission voted against the added rooms.

Craiker was careful to note that unlike some other B&B applications, such as that at 492 Randolph St., this project doesn’t involve the elimination of existing rental housing units.

According to Craiker, “multiple B&Bs in this neighborhood will enhance the livability of the community and should be encouraged.”

The application states that four parking spaces for the new B&B would be found on site. Four parking spaces on Oak Street and two parking spaces on Franklin Street “are not used on a daily basis by the neighborhood and will be available to guests,” the application stated.

Wehling said she inherited the Shwarz house from her godfather and has lived in the home since 2012.

It features an original lead glass china cabinet, turn-of-the-century light fixtures, hardwood floors, 11-foot coved ceilings, ornate crown molding and “lovely pillars flanking the entry way to the living spaces.”

“The location is fantastic. I think it’s a great place for visitors to get a taste of this historic part of Napa,” said Wehling.

Wehling said she is aware of the other owners of historic homes now requesting permits to add rooms or become a B&B, but said she didn’t have enough information to comment on those proposals.

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