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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, October 29, 2012, 5:45 am

Commercial Real Estate Guide 2012: New effort to market Napa’s Copia

Big expansion for Wineshipping; planners OK new Napa Pipe plan

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    Vacancy rates for the majority of office and industrial space in Napa County was unchanged in the third quarter from a year before, despite several large leases and sales.

    The vacancy rate for office space in the business parks in southern Napa Valley was 13.2 percent of 2.57 million square feet, according to Keegan & Coppin/ONCOR International. That’s virtually unchanged from the 13.1 percent vacancy a year before but nine-10ths of a percentage point lower than in mid-2012.

    ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., owner of the shuttered 80,000-square-foot Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts building near downtown Napa, in June started marketing nearly 65,000 square feet of it as office and commercial space through Cushman & Wakefield’s San Rafael office. That idea came from an inquiry by giant wine and beverage producer Constellation Brands, which ultimate chose not to act on the plan for a corporate offices for its North Coast brands, according to Joe Fischer, a longtime Napa development consultant working with Rogal + Associates on options for the property.

    Copia opened in November 2001 after more than a decade of work by Robert Mondavi himself and other backers. It closed in November 2008 amid a bankruptcy filing because of $80 million in debt. Bond financier ACA Financial took possession of the property.

    Wine order fulfillment services provider Wineshipping in August expanded its new Napa base of operations to nearly 208,000 square feet at 80 Technology Ct. in Napa Valley Gateway Business Park in south Napa. In spring of this year, Wineshipping subleased 150,000 square feet of wine warehouse from Constellation Brands and has been investing millions of dollars in improvements and automation, was is intended to meet the company’s projected needs for the next half-dozen years. The company previously was based in a 78,000-square-foot warehouse at 21481 Eight St. E. south of Sonoma.

    Napa-based Biagi Bros. Transportation & Warehousing absorbed 115,000 square feet of warehousing space left vacant when giant Constellation Brands consolidated its North Coast back-end operations amid post-recession inventory adjustments. Biagi first subleased 65,000 square feet then another 55,000 at 50–80 Technology Way in Napa Valley Gateway.

    Creekside Napa I LLC, led by the Indelicato vintner family, converted the all-office Napa Valley Gateway building at 455 Devlin Rd., formerly the headquarters of shuttered wine fulfillment provider New Vine Logistics, to 70 percent warehouse. In March, that nearly 27,000 square feet was leased to Benchmark Wine Group for casegoods storage.

    Online retailer or fine and rare collectibles Blicker Pierce Wagner Wine Merchants, better known as BP Wine, and the owners’ new “flash” online wine sales venture Last Bottle Wines are growing so quickly that they are have secured a south Napa warehouse four times the size.

    Owners Cory Wagner, Brent Pierce and Stefan Blicker on Aug. 15 purchased a 30,000-square-foot warehouse building at 607 Airpark Rd. in south Napa for $2.8 million. Community Action Napa Valley’s food bank will continue to occupy 8,000 square feet of the building after the partners’ ventures consolidate into 22,000 square feet there in December or January.

    BP Wine currently has a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in St. Helena, and flash sales startup Last Bottle Wines from a leased warehouse in Napa.

    Industrial space vacancy in southern Napa Valley was 11.6 percent of 13.2 million square feet in the third quarter of this year, according to Keegan & Coppin. That’s barely changed from 11.4 percent a year before.

    On Oct. 3, the Napa County Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend the Board of Supervisors consider approval of a revised redevelopment plan for the 154-acre former Napa Pipe plant that includes a proposed 154,000-square-foot Costco Wholesale store, 10-acre school site and a five-acre community garden.

    The revised proposal caps housing at 945 units, down from the 2,050 that Napa Redevelopment Partners presented to the Planning Commission in May.

    The new proposal is divided into two properties in unincorporated Napa County, 63 acres along Napa River and west of the nearby railroad tracks and 91 acres east of the tracks.

    On the west side, the revision seeks rezoning to allow 700 to nearly 1,000 homes, a 150-unit continuing care retirement center, a 150-room hotel and more than 15,000 square feet of community facilities. Office use has been cut to 10,000 square feet from 100,000 square feet.

    On the eastern property, the developer proposed zoning to allow for Costco, a gas station, a school, garden, a limit of 90,000 square feet of office space and a reduced 75,000 square feet of warehouse space.

    Spartanburg, S.C.-based OTO Development secured land for a 115-room hotel next to the 12-screen movie theaters under construction at the south end of Napa. OTO signed a ground lease land at the southwest corner of the 15-acre Napa Century Center project between the Napa River and the Silverado Trail at Imola Avenue. The deal with Gasser South, LLC, managed by the Napa-based Peter A. and Vernice H. Gasser Foundation, includes an option to purchase the property.

    The hotel, intended to be under the Hampton Inn & Suites brand, would go next to 163,000-square-foot shopping center.

    Construction started in August 2011 for the 2,000-plus-seat, 41,000-square-foot Century Theaters multiplex. Walls for the cinemas started rising in April, and the theaters are set to open Nov. 9.

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