We are missing a clear and shared community vision for our downtown. The Downtown Specific Plan was adopted in May 2012. The City’s most recently adopted hotel study and guideline document was adopted in 2008. The Affordable Task Force report was finished in May 2013. In our opinion, Napa’s world has changed in such a short period and many of these documents are out of date. Many things not officially or formally proposed at those times are now in motion and these all demand a new look and a great deal more coordination:
-- The City is proposing General Plan Amendments to allow the construction of a new consolidated Civic Center/police station as well as the development of a new hotel and associated projects on the current City Hall block. Washington Street would be closed. A five- to six-story parking garage would be built on Clay Street near the current parking garage.
-- Bounty Hunter has approvals to build a new four-story building on the southwest corner of First and Main. Is it still moving forward?
-- The “Register Square” housing project is currently under construction.
-- The August 2014 earthquake forced the abandonment of the downtown Post Office and the Safeway complex at Clay and Jefferson. The Post Office, Ace Hardware, and the city parking lot on the east side of Randolph are now proposed for a hotel and parking garage. The Safeway building is derelict and abandoned. That site is a major opportunity for housing.
-- The county’s Carithers’ Building sustained earthquake damage and repairs were made but the building is getting to the end of its useful life; soon, that building should become surplus and offered for sale for new development.
-- The city’s Second Street garage is a dinosaur, poorly designed, and in need of demolition and re-thinking.
-- The county’s Sullivan block property is primed for new development.
-- The Mervyn’s/Kohl’s Building complex is ripe for demolition and complete rethinking. We understand that this is currently in play.
-- The Town Center/Downtown Napa retail complex feels like it is stalled. What is the future of retail in downtown? How do we make this retail exciting for visitors while encouraging local shopping?
-- The city is talking about a redo of the Dwight Murray Plaza and the Brown Street pedestrian way from Pearl Street to Third Street. It seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Why are we spending money on these things when many adjacent properties, as noted above, are going to be torn down, redesigned, and redeveloped?
-- The entire Cinedome area is in play adjacent to the Oxbow Bypass.
-- The vast majority of downtown is now an “Opportunity Zone,” which is an opening for new investments.
-- We need new hotels to build housing for their people and this all needs to be rethought in new ways.
So, how do all of these fit together? It strikes us that there is no overarching and dynamic vision or any real coordination for all of this. How can the city think about developing the Civic Center and allowing the Plenary Development Group to build a new hotel, etc, on the City Hall block without really addressing all of these moving parts? It is time to slow down and get it right.
We call on our city and county leaders, the business community, and the Napa citizenry to come together to create a vision for the long term.
Chuck and Felicia Shinnamon