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One of Napa’s future housing developments will join a growing cluster of apartments along First Street west of the freeway. Another will occupy the property on Foster Road where the city’s radio stations broadcast for decades.

A pair of projects with room for 64 households gained final approval from the City Council Tuesday evening. The unanimous vote clears the way for the First Street Apartments II, a 50-unit rental property west of Highway 29, as well as a group of 14 townhouses at 1124 Foster Road.

Groundbreaking for the First Street Apartments, set to take place by April, will end more than a decade of fits and starts on the project, which was conceived as a condominium complex in the late 2000s. Council members had approved an earlier version of the apartments in 2014, but the permit lapsed when work did not begin within two years.

Rising from 1.7 acres at 2611 First St. — where a handful of existing houses will be demolished — will be a trio of 40-foot-tall buildings filled mainly with two-bedroom dwellings, along with 11 one-bedroom units and four with three bedrooms.

At the request of the city’s Planning Commission, developer Jim Reilly updated the exterior ground plan this spring, increasing the number of outdoor gathering spaces from two to four and adding barbecue grills and children’s play areas. Rooftop solar panels will provide power and water heating, and the parking lot will include two chargers for electric vehicles.

Napa also required the complex to include a longer left-turn lane onto the property than originally planned, with space for three vehicles — a nod to rush-hour congestion on a stretch of First Street beside Highway 29 that connects Browns Valley and downtown.

While Napa’s approval of the First Street Apartments does not come with any income restriction on future tenants, Reilly promised “competitive” rents intended to fully occupy the development as quickly as possible. “Our strategy is to keep the units full, rather than have to constantly flip them and chase a higher dollar,” he said of the complex, where the first renters could move in as soon as the fall of 2021.

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Later Tuesday, the council gave its blessing to the Foster Road townhome development that will replace the former studio of KVON-AM and KVYN-FM. The building, which dates to the 1960s, housed both stations until their owner Wine Down Media moved operations to the South Napa Century Center on July 8.

Five three-story buildings will fill the property, including two containing four units and a trio of duplexes. Each two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo will include about 1,300 feet of living space with a garage at ground level.

Planning commissioners had voted in favor of the townhomes in January, despite objections from some neighborhood residents who predicted more housing would worsen congestion, parking supplies and pedestrian safety on a roadway that also serves Snow Elementary School just south, as well as housing subdivisions in south Napa.

On Tuesday, area resident Eve Ryser questioned the height and scale of the townhomes in their surroundings, and also its nearness to the Snow campus, where buildings are being moved farther away from a fault line.

Senior Planner Michael Allen replied that a fault zone mapped by the state after the 2014 earthquake nicks the southwest corner of the Foster Road site, but added that a consultant’s ground survey had turned up no fault or other surface rupture on the site itself.

The approvals of the First Street and Foster Road complexes mark Napa leaders’ latest embrace of multifamily housing amid a long-running shortage, with rents and resale prices remaining historically high and vacancy levels at 2 percent or less.

Since February, the city has approved a loan increase for the 34-unit Redwood Grove townhouses, which are reserved for families on below-median incomes, and cleared bond issues to renovate River Park Manor on South Jefferson Street and Charter Oaks on Browns Valley Road, both affordable rental complexes.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.