This year ended with a flurry of Napa Pipe happenings, as the mega project, after eight years of controversy, neared a planning finish line that could bring a Costco to Napa.
The Napa Board of Supervisors on Dec. 16 approved a development agreement with Napa Redevelopment Partners. That gives the developer the right to build 700 to 945 homes, shops, businesses, a hotel, parks, a senior retirement center – and a Costco.
That agreement also sets out the developer’s obligations. Among them is to try to deliver the Costco in the project’s first phase.
“We’re excited to be coming to Napa,” Michael Okuma of Costco said on Nov. 25. “We’ve been working a long time with the developer toward that goal … We are quite anxious to be part of the community.”
Supervisors in December also approved the Napa Pipe development plan and preliminarily approved design review guidelines.
The project’s look is to pay homage to its former industrial uses. An old dry dock is to become a small boat harbor and events center. A gantry crane is to become part of an outdoor movie screen.
For Napa County, the goal of the project is to take care of the county’s state-mandated housing obligations for rural areas for years to come. By redeveloping a former industrial site along the Napa River, the county hopes to avoid having farmland paved over.
“I believe that one of the ways we keep our agricultural lands is to go up, not out,” Supervisor Diane Dillon said. “This is an appropriate place to do that.”
The city of Napa is interested in annexing the land because the development would be on the city’s borders. The developer is looking to the city to provide water and such services as police and fire.
“People (living there) are going to feel they are part of the city,” Napa Mayor Jill Techel said in October. “I think it would be confusing to them not to be part of the city.”
The city of Napa has a voter-approved growth line. City voters at the Nov. 4 election approved Measure A, extending the growth line to include Napa Pipe and giving the City Council a chance to annex the land.
Napa Redevelopment Partners sent out campaign mailers urging a “yes” vote on Measure A. The featured hook in the pitch was the chance to bring a Costco to town.
Napa Pipe had no Costco when it first development proposals came before the county in 2007. The earliest version of Napa Pipe called for 3,200 residences. In 2009, the number of homes was scaled back to 2,580.
No matter. The city of Napa didn’t want that many town houses and other residences massed on its borders. That displeasure led to long negotiations between the county and city over how to proceed.
A key moment came in 2012, when developers scaled back the number of residences, and added a Costco to the mix. The county and city in 2013 approved an agreement stipulating how they would work together on a Napa Pipe project eventually to be annexed by the city.
In 2015, the spotlight for Napa Pipe matters will shift to the city of Napa. The city will discuss such topics as providing water for the project.
And, if everything falls into place, Napans will be able to shop at a local Costco within a few years.