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Interactive fountain dropped for Dwight Murray Plaza

The Napa City Council is expected to adopt a plan for the remaking of Dwight Murray Plaza on First Street in 2017. This is one suggested redesign.

Projects of all sorts are percolating as 2017 begins, with the promise of changing the look of downtown Napa, several key traffic flows, the way we park and where we shop.

City of Napa officials are looking into possibly reviving metered parking to increase turnover on the busiest streets downtown. In place of the mechanical meters Napa pulled out two decades ago, a new payment system could instead lean on electronic kiosks that would govern multiple vehicle spaces and accept credit cards, as suggested by an earlier study by Walker Parking Consultants.

Napa also continues to pursue millions of dollars for a future downtown garage to hold 350 to 400 vehicles. This would help meet the demand created by a growing hotel and restaurant industry. The parking structure is expected to require at least $12 million and to be built near the former home of the Cinedome, the West Street movie theater that was torn down in 2015.

Plans will be selected for the rebuilding of Dwight Murray Plaza, which opened in 1974 as Napa’s hoped-for public square but has languished with a dated design in recent years. A filling-in of the sunken seating pit, new café-style tables and seating, and fresh landscaping are meant to bring into modern times a gathering place whose original landmarks – a timber clock tower and a waterfall fountain – are long gone.

Two of Napa’s main routes into the business district are due for a major smoothing-out. The City Council in January is expected to review plans to replace a five-way intersection that has become a notorious bottleneck on Third Street where it meets the Silverado Trail, East Avenue and Coombsville Road. Proposals shown to local residents have included a variety of options, including roundabouts to allow drivers to enter and exit from any direction at once.

Another reconstruction would change the shape and flow of First Street, which funnels motorists downtown from an exit on Highway 29. A city-state partnership in the planning stages seeks to replace traffic lights with roundabouts to reduce congestion from the freeway to the city’s heart.

Napa’s long-awaited fifth fire station broke ground in October on Browns Valley Road and is expected to open this fall, greatly shortening the time needed to respond to fires, accidents and health emergencies in neighborhoods west of Highway 29.

Eventually, Napa City Hall may become a much larger, more modern home.

Napa is seeking designers for a 100,000-square-foot, multistory City Hall building that would go up on downtown Second Street, replacing the current 1950s-era headquarters, housing the police department as well and absorbing city offices that are scattered among several leased buildings. The city is scheduled to choose from among three finalists by this spring, with construction slated to begin in the autumn and wrap up in 2019.

A new City Hall is expected to cost more than $54 million, and Napa leaders hope to rezone part of the current building’s footprint for a 200-room hotel whose tax revenue would help cover the years of bond payments.

Scheduled for a mid-year opening, the Archer hotel on First Street will stand 65 feet and five stories above First Street, bringing life to a block where the Merrill’s pharmacy building had remained virtually idle since the mid-1990s. Guests will enter the Archer through the Merrill building’s surviving tiled façade before heading into one of its 183 rooms – or into the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant or up toward a rooftop pool.

The Culinary Institute of America is continuing its revival of the Copia building on First Street, whose namesake wine, cuisine and fine-arts center closed in 2008, smothered by a $78 million debt. Cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and other events have begun filling up the calendar at the complex now branded CIA at Copia, which the academy is shaping into a satellite of its Greystone center in St. Helena.

CIA has reopened the Copia shop and the restaurant once known as Julia’s Kitchen, and plans to host weddings and business events at the site, which includes an indoor theater and a recently restored outdoor amphitheater bowl.

On the south side of First Street, a parking lot built for Copia may become a blank slate for townhouses, commercial space and a Napa River promenade that would further enliven the Oxbow District. A team led by the San Diego-based developer Barry McComic has an agreement to buy the south Copia site from ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. for the project, which also would cover the county corporation yard site previously sold to McComic.

While Napa Valley wines – and numerous tasting rooms to showcase them – continue to saturate downtown Napa, a major player in the craft beer world also will hang its shingle in the heart of town. Stone Brewing of San Diego plans a 2017 opening at the gastropub it is assembling inside the 140-year-old Borreo Building, the Italian Renaissance-style edifice at Third and Soscol the brewer purchased from the city after it had stood vacant for 15 years.

Napa developer Todd Zapolski and partners have promised that 2017 will bring announcements — and openings — of the much-discussed retail tenants at First Street Napa.

In 2017, as many as 40 tenants are said to open in the former Napa Town Center mall, said Zapolski.

Construction on the new home for the Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Spirits should begin in mid-2017 at First and Main streets, said owner Mark Pope.

Pope plans to move his Old West-themed restaurant and offices with more than 100 employees at 975 First St. into the new 26,930-square-foot building.

His intent is to create a “building that is historically interesting, but respectful of Napa heritage and tradition,” he said.

A new Wiseman Company development at 1300 Main St. at the northeast corner of Clinton Street could be finished as soon as April 2017, according to Scot Hunter, a Wiseman principal.

Completion of the 21,500-square-foot complex, will include retail and restaurant space at ground level with office space upstairs.

Could the Napa Firefighters Museum get redeveloped as a sports bar in 2017?

The downtown storefront that once housed the museum was sold to Michael L. Holcomb in 2016. Plans filed with the city call for the addition of a second level with a bar and rooftop garden, as well as a staircase and elevator. Work is expected to last 12 to 18 months, according to Jennifer LaLiberte, the city’s economic development manager.

It’s possible the Safeway lot and two larger parcels on Clay Street near Seminary Street could also get a new owner – San Diego-based developer Barry McComic. The developer has indicated his interest in all three parcels along the corridor.

The South Napa Century Center should also see new tenants move in, including Naked Wines, food service and other retailers. At least two new buildings are planned, one currently under construction and the other to be located north of Forge pizza.

American Canyon

American Canyon should see more movement on its ambitious Watson Ranch project during 2017, not only with the environmental impact report but perhaps also a new approach on resolving some of its traffic impacts.

Instead of going it alone on this problem, the city’s leaders may reach out to their Napa and Upvalley counterparts to develop a regional approach to mitigate some of the current and growing gridlock in south county.

Beginning in January, the American Canyon City Council is expected to look seriously at some long-term options for water supply in an effort to make American Canyon less reliant on the State Water Project.

Additionally, the Public Works Department is developing a plan to expand the city’s recycled water program by further treating reclaimed water so it could be used not just for irrigation, as is the case now, but also in homes for potential potable use.

American Canyon should also see important developments on senior housing, a new school, and road improvements for its Green Island Road industrial area.

The long awaited Valley View Senior Homes project is expected to break ground after years of delays trying to raise all of the necessary funding for 70 affordable housing units for seniors, including veterans 55 years and older.

The Napa Valley Unified School District hopes to settle on a new location in American Canyon for Napa Junction Elementary School, which sits atop the West Napa Fault. The district’s plan is to build the new school and have it open by fall 2019.

Finally, the Public Works Department is planning to begin work on extending Devlin Road so it connects with Green Island Road, offering commercial vehicles an alternative to connecting with Highway 29. This alternative will be important as the city embarks on a lengthy process to rebuild Green Island Road, which has become riddled with potholes and is in serious need of work.

Criminal Justice

— Sara Lynn Krueger, 26, and Ryan Scott Warner, 29, were arrested on Feb. 2, 2014 in connection with the death of Krueger’s 3-year-old daughter, Kayleigh Slusher. The couple is accused of murder with a special allegation that the murder was intentional and involved torture as well as assault on a child causing death.

A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 6. Although only one trial is scheduled for both Krueger and Warner, each defendant will have separate juries, according to court documents.

— Adrian Madrigal, 27, was arrested on June 23, 2013 on suspicion of killing Don Buffington during a robbery of the 62-year-old retiree’s residence at 1190 Hayes St. in Napa. Madrigal is accused of murder with several special allegations, robbery, burglary in the first degree and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, according to court documents.

A mental health hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

— Russell Lee Wyant, 55, was arrested on Sept. 3 in connection with the hit-and-run death of 54-year-old Michael Dean Green of Napa. Wyant is accused of murder, assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm, and hit and run causing injury or death. Wyant pleaded not guilty on Oct. 27, but a trial date has not been set.

The next hearing is scheduled for Jan. 6.

Napa County Government

Napa County government looks to have several controversial issues in the spotlight during 2017.

The county will likely decide the fate of the proposed Palmaz helipad near the slopes of Mount George. Applicant Christian Palmaz wants to be able to fly his helicopter to and from the family home at Palmaz Vineyards.

A county environmental report says the helipad wouldn’t cause significant environmental impacts. But dozens of neighbors are afraid the operation will be noisy and a nuisance. Opponents from elsewhere in the county fear a Palmaz victory would open the door to other rural helipads.

The proposed Yountville Hill Winery north of Yountville along Highway 29 should also reemerge in the coming year. Opponents say it is too much of a winery events center, though, again, a county environmental report finds no significant impacts.

Napa County is trying to head off controversy by including neighbors in the planning for a possible housing project at the county’s former Health and Human Services campus at Old Sonoma Road. The county’s goal is to finish a master plan for the site this spring.

Reporters Howard Yune, Jennifer Huffman, Noel Brinkerhoff, Barry Eberling and Maria Sestito contributed to this story.

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