Friday, June 12, 2009

Downtown Napa Redevelopment & Growth Part 2

By John M. Olney, April 22, 2009
Copyright April 22, 2009, all rights reserved by
Wine Country Marketing and Promotions,
1370 Trancas St., #409, Napa, CA 94558
Phone: 707-299-9548
Web site:

Part 2
Visitor & Tourist Overnight Lodging

I also looked at existing, under construction and future plans for the development of hotel-type lodging facilities for guests of local residents, business travels and tourists wanting to stay in the immediate downtown Napa area.

“Downtown Hotel Quantity”
I have difficulty understanding the recent comment of many about how the growth of hotels is causing so many problems for local Napan’s in terms of bringing too much “tourism” to downtown Napa and making it a shopping area not particularly friendly to locals.

Older Lodging
Napa River Inn (66 rooms)
Napa Valley Hotel & Suites [Formerly known as the Travel Lodge] ( 40 rooms)
River Terrace Inn (166 rooms)
Numerous B&B’s
New /Under Construction lodging
Westin (161 rooms)
The Boutique Inn, an Avia Hotel (36 rooms)
Future Construction I have not yet found evidence of any planned for the immediate downtown area. The proposed Ritz-Carlton in the Oxbow is on economic hold for at least 2-3 years.

The Napa Valley Hotel & Suites (formerly known as the Travel Lodge) the oldest and formerly only downtown lodging facility in recent years, and the relatively new Napa River Inn are the only real downtown open hotel facilities within easy walking distance of the immediate downtown shopping area. They represent only 106 rooms and assuming double occupancy, that is only an average of just over 200 possible shoppers in the downtown area per day at full occupancy.

Personally, I do not feel that either or both of these facilities could possibly have caused such product type changes to downtown shopping outlets except for the addition of wine tasting rooms.

The Avia-Boutique is not even open, and the Westin only just recently opened but it is across the wide street of Soscol away from the immediate downtown shopping area, as is the River Terrace Inn. Both of the latter are within reasonable walking distance of the immediate downtown shopping area but only under nice weather conditions.

Again, I do not see how these facilities could have changed the retail shop composition or offered products in the downtown area except for the addition of wine tasting rooms.

Combined, all these facilities represent well under a 1000 possible shoppers per day.

They traveled from all over the world or USA to shop at the “large anchor stores” of the former Mervyns (soon to be Kohl’s) and McCaulous? I don’t think so!

There are no Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Tiffany’s, Armani’s, or stores comparable to Rodeo Drive of Beverly Hills, Santana Row of San Jose, Union Square of San Francisco, etc., to excite tourist type shopping spree’s

“Outer Downtown Hotel Lodging Facilities"I also looked at those facilities in close proximity to the core downtown area. I considered these those located no further away than Silverado Trail to the east, vicinity of Hwy 29 to the west, Imola to the south and Trancas to the north. A list of these facilities is below.

Lincoln Ave

River Pointe (___ cottages)

Near Trancas/Redwood
Chablis (34 rooms)
Napa Valley Redwood Inn [Budget Inns] (58 rooms)
Marriot (274 rooms)
Hilton Garden (80 rooms)


Chardonnay Inn (19 rooms)

Hwy 29, California Blvd, 1st Street
Embassy Suites (205 rooms)

Best Western-Elms (22 rooms)

Silverado Trail
Discovery Inn (15 rooms)


Hawthorn (60 rooms)

Best Western-Vines (68 rooms)

Wine Valley Inn (54 rooms)

Once again, I cannot imagine how these facilities could possibly have changed the composition of downtown Napa shopping trends in terms of the type of store products being offered except for the addition of wine tasting rooms.



Transportation, Suburbs and alls
So what has changed the type of store and product available in the downtown area?

All across America smaller cities like Napa are suffering the same problem of their downtown area being vacated for outlaying suburban housing and strip malls. In my opinion it is the development of individualized transportation - the automobile, suburban housing tracks and massive “all-in-one shopping malls." One no longer had to live in the congested downtown area; one could have a garden,and move around to see things-they could get away.

Home Design/layout
Another often-overlooked factor about the private residences of the old downtown area streets is the limit on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Modern suburban homes are minimum 3-4 bedroom 2 to 2&1/2 baths whereas downtown residential homes are mostly 2-3 bedrooms 1 to 1 &1/2 bath. The latter are not a modern look so younger buyers are not as interested in purchasing them.

Additionally, the downtown houses only have single and narrow garages and most of our population now prefers 2-3 garage homes as both mom and pop are probably working and don’t have time to keep washing cars, cleaning frost of windows, etc.

In Napa’s case, instead of classic Mall’s, we have large strip malls, located on the corner of Trancas-Hwy 29 to the north, and corner of Imola-Soscol to the south.

Visitor Lodging
As with the large/tall, office/retail buildings, the primary reason that tourist are at the hotels of the city of Napa is because such structures cannot be built in the agricultural preservation land and because the other larger communities to the north of Napa denied them access within their city limits.

Hotel and Office Development
Because of all the above arguments large hotel and office/retail building growth is defaulted to the economic benefit of the cities of American Canyon and Napa -- if they are clever enough to recognize this fact!

The Key to Attracting Consumers to Downtown
Those involved in the redevelopment of Downtown Napa cannot just consider the type and mix of buildings to allow; rather the citizens, merchants, developers and planning officials must rethink the core downtown Napa area’s future by concentrating on attracting the type of products that could be sold in the downtown area -- because it is products that attract buyers, not buildings. COPIA is a good modern day example of my statement!

Why are the restaurants full but the street stores empty? Why did the Chef’s Market draw so many while the stores were empty?

I have written a couple of article that relate to what I am suggesting in this three part article:

My article of January 2, 2009, “A magnificent Emporium From COPIA Ashes,” ( ) which was titled not by me but by the Napa Valley Register (NVR), offered the opinion that the Napa River Oxbow Redevelopment area on the east side of Soscol is the “Park Place and Boardwalk” area of Napa because it already contains elements of high end lodging, dining and to a limited extent shopping, plus the attraction of the railroad train passenger depot, all of which are fundamentally and primarily of interest to visitors of the county whether a friend of a resident, a business traveler or a tourist. In addition, yes, some residents do use the facilities that are available.

My second article, again, titled by the NVR, “Hotel Summit and Essence of the Valley,” (
). My article calls for the locals and the planning officials to look at ALL future building types to be allowed and not just hotels as one county supervisor is proposing. The supervisor stressed traffic caused by hotels. Instead of blaming hotels one should applaud them because they spread out traffic. They decrease day-visit-only traffic loads which is two trips a day instead of an entry trip one day and an exit another day. In essence, hotels are a form of staggered traffic flow. They are also a boon to dollars spent in the local economy.

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