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Supervisors moving Napa Pipe forward
DEVELOPMENT

Supervisors moving Napa Pipe forward

From the Napa Pipe and Napa Costco: How did we get here? series
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Napa County took a major step Tuesday toward wrapping up the Napa Pipe development approval saga, with the proposed Costco among the topics of discussion.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously stated its intent to adopt a 20-year development agreement giving Napa Redevelopment Partners the right to build. It will take a final vote at a future meeting. The board also passed several other Napa Pipe items.

All of this amounted to a “major milestone,” said Keith Rogal, who has shepherded the project along for Napa Redevelopment Partners for more than eight years.

Napa Pipe is to be among the area’s biggest developments in recent decades. About 154 acres along the Napa River adjacent to Napa Valley Commons is targeted for 700 to 945 residences, a 150-room hotel, a senior retirement center, stores, parks, trails – and a membership warehouse store such as Costco.

The proposed Costco has gained much local attention. Napa Redevelopment Partners used it in mailers as a selling point to city of Napa voters in the recent Measure A campaign. Voters passed Measure A in the Nov. 4 election, giving the city of Napa the ability to annex the Napa Pipe property.

“We’re excited to be coming to Napa,” Michael Okuma of Costco told supervisors. “We’ve been working a long time with the developer toward that goal … We are quite anxious to be part of the community.”

He later said that Costco could start construction after the roads, water service, sewer service and other infrastructure is built at the site.

After the meeting, Rogal said he has no doubt that Costco is coming.

“They want to be here,” Rogal said. “They have the ability to be here. We have the land and we’ve designed for them.”

He had an afternoon meeting scheduled with officials from Costco, the county and city to work on Costco issues. An earlier meeting among the parties covered such details as the height of the light poles in the parking lot.

City of Napa Community Development Director Rick Tooker said everyone says that Costco is coming. Given that, the city wants the county to remove the so-called “backstop” provision from the development agreement.

This “backstop” provision addresses what happens if no warehouse membership store has been built after two years. It allows the developer to start building residences, provided the developer pays for police, fire and other services that otherwise would be covered by Costco tax dollars.

Tooker called this provision a “third rail” and unnecessary. The city instead wants to deal with the issue of no Costco being built when and if that comes to pass.

But supervisors decided otherwise. Supervisor Bill Dodd said he’s convinced that Costco is coming, but he still wants the “backstop.”

“Having it there, I think it’s just good business,” Dodd said. “It’s not supposed to raise eyebrows and concerns.”

Supervisor Mark Luce called the provision an incentive for the developer to move the Costco project forward.

The development agreement tops the hierarchy of the various Napa Pipe agreements, said Larry Florin, county director of housing and governmental affairs. It enables other agreements to go forward.

Some of those agreements are still being completed. A project that has gone on for years is amid a slow-motion wrap-up. The board is scheduled to vote Dec. 16 on Napa Pipe design guidelines and five Napa Pipe agreements between the county and city.

Meanwhile, the City Council must vote on whether to provide water to Napa Pipe. Tooker said that could happen in February.

The development agreement does more than give Napa Redevelopment Partners the right to build. It also outlines the obligations that Napa Redevelopment Partners must meet.

Among them are paying $1 million to the county for affordable housing assistance; building small boat harbors, a boathouse, a swimming pool and sunken event space in the dry dock area; turning a gantry crane into an outdoor movie screen; building a transit kiosk; restoring habitat on Bedford Slough; making landscape median improvements on Kaiser Road and developing a 4-acre community farm.

The project would address a significant portion of the county’s state-mandated housing targets for the unincorporated area. It would reduce pressure for growth on agricultural lands and direct growth to a developed area, a county report said.

With the board’s action, Rogal sees the finish line for the approvals phase of his project. He talked about the project moving from the realm of paper and plans and studies to starting the physical transformation of the former industrial site.

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