The revitalization of Napa’s former Town Center mall, now known as Napa Center, proceeded slowly in 2014. No leases for the spaces have been announced and no new tenants have moved in. However, a key component of the project, the Archer hotel, received approval from the city’s Planning Commission in 2014 and is beginning construction.
The news that a five-story hotel is going up in the heart of downtown, surrounded by a retail center poised for rebirth, ranks as one of the Register’s top stories of the year.
As part of the mall’s revamp, visitors who stroll through the mostly empty space today will notice new common area improvements and the demolition of a section of retail space that was formerly the home of Williamson & Co. men’s clothing store.
New outdoor lamps, walkways and stone and metal benches have also been installed. The mall’s ‘90s-style peach/pink paint scheme has been mostly replaced with earth tones in taupe and sage. New awnings and window flower boxes have been installed in some areas.
At the same time, a block of retail and visitor-serving businesses on First Street relocated or closed this summer to make way for the Archer hotel. The displaced businesses included Ceja Vineyards tasting room, Cult Following Wine Bar, Boho Lifestyle, Williamson & Co. clothiers and Wildcat Vintage Clothing.
They are making way for a hotel that lead developer Todd Zapolski calls the key component of the redevelopment.
In 2012, Zapolski and partners bought the Town Center and a string of adjacent commercial buildings on First Street: the Dunne Building, the former California Savings Bank building and the former Merrill’s Drug Store. In 2013, he purchased the Gordon Building at First and Coombs.
He renamed the area Napa Center and began working to find a hotel partner and retail tenants. In total, the made-over center will feature 156,000 square feet of retail space, with the owners promising to go after retailers that would bolster downtown as a place to shop, not just eat and sip wine.
Zapolski has been courting high-end, national retailers, as well as local merchants. The majority of those tenants will not move in until construction of the planned five-story Archer hotel has progressed, Zapolski has said.
This summer, the hotel’s development plans were temporarily stalled due to objections filed by an Oakland hotel workers union. The two appeals, filed against the Cultural Heritage Commission and Planning Commission approvals of the 183-room hotel, challenged the environmental impacts of the proposed project. Those complaints, viewed by many as a strategy to unionize future hotel employees, were later withdrawn.
The Aug. 24 earthquake served up another jolt to the center, resulting in the closure of its anchor tenant, McCaulou’s. The regional department store chain has not announced when it will reopen.
In early November, the construction process began at the Archer hotel with some demolition at the Merrill’s building.
The Archer, planned as a four-diamond, boutique luxury hotel, should open in late 2016, said a news release.