Believing that downtown Napa has a bright future, a San Diego-based developer is doubling down on projects that ring the city’s tourist center.
Barry McComic first appeared on the Napa scene when his company, Vesta Pacific Development, bought the block formerly home to the Napa Valley Register building in September 2015.
The property sold for around $5 million and subsequent development plans were approved for 51 housing units and 6,200 square feet of commercial space.
The county Board of Supervisors in October agreed to sell a 2.2-acre corporation yard site at 933 Water St. to a McComic company, RBMC Advisors, LLC, for $4.4 million. The buyer also has an agreement to purchase the adjacent south Copia property from ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., creating a seven-acre development area.
Townhouses, stacked flats, commercial space on the scale of the nearby Oxbow Public Market and a parking structure are targeted for the sites. So is a landscaped Napa River promenade with park benches, sculptures and vintage streetlights, according to bid papers filed with the county.
“The river has been closed off to the public for a long time,” McComic said at the time. “It is our intention to open it up and let the people enjoy the river.”
McComic has also teamed up with the Plenary Group of Los Angeles, one of the proposed bidders to redevelop the block containing Napa City Hall, the Napa Police Department and Fire Station No. 1 downtown.
The city wants a developer who can build a multi-story city hall, a hotel and a parking garage on the city block.
Working with Michael L. Holcomb, McComic also planned to redevelop the former Napa Firefighters Museum at Main and Pearl streets. McComic is no longer involved in that project, Holcomb said this week.
This past week, McComic said he had made an offer to buy the former Safeway property at Jefferson and Clay streets.
“I have been pursuing the site for several months and have presented an offer to the owner,” he said.
McComic said he could not elaborate due to a non-disclosure agreement.
However, “We can assume that the Safeway site is going to be developed in the not too distant future,” he said.
McComic said he’d like to have a hand in the master plan of the downtown area around Safeway in conjunction with the redevelopment of city hall.
The corridor just north of First Street — from Jefferson Street all the way to the Andaz hotel -– “will be a very significant part of downtown,” he said. “It needs to be planned with that in mind and have complementary development.”
One developer working on the insurance company lot, Safeway and City Hall projects would be advantageous, he said, especially when it comes to providing parking, a crucial part of the plan.
In an October interview, McComic said he has been studying Napa for two years.
Pressure from the Bay Area is causing a great need for housing and related commercial development, he said at the time. People can buy the same square footage in Napa for 60 percent, sometimes even half, of the price elsewhere in the region.
Meanwhile, McComic said, the Napa City Council has indicated it wants more housing because of a severe housing shortage and because housing prices are creeping up.
“The economics, plus the political environment, tend to play a big part in our decision to establish a platform here in this part of the state,” McComic said.