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Chief creditor seeking proposals for center; also, Silverado for saleThe iconic but bankrupt American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts will head to final liquidation proceedings Tuesday, as the property’s chief creditor amasses proposals for the purchase or lease of all or part of the massive 17-acre estate.

Conceived by wine legend Robert Mondavi, the 80,000-square-foot Copia filed for bankruptcy last November after accumulating more than $78 million in debt since its 2001 opening.

The organization’s bond insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., released an official request for purchase proposals last month, allowing interested buyers until Nov. 12 to submit an offer. The application does not suggest a preferred use or pricing, but it does say ACA is not required to choose any of the applicants.

An official with Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate Advisory Services, which was hired to oversee and market the sale, said the hospitality industry has generated the most interest in the site. The group does not expect to receive any official proposals until the due date, but suggestions have included building from the ground up on some of the empty property possibly for retail and residential, or a hotel. Others have talked of using the existing structure for education, restaurants, conference space or community-use.

“ACA’s viewpoint is simple, they are seeking to maximize recovery for the liability they have,” said Alvarez & Marsal Managing Director Jerry Pietroforte.

“In an ideal world they would want to cover the entire $78 million, but all of the darts thrown at the wall regarding pricing, the various values generally have fallen short.”

The Coalition to Preserve Copia, formed to advocate for community-use of the building, at one point asked to purchase the site but was told to wait for the bidding process. Founding member John Salmon said the coalition’s board of hotel, chamber, wine, bank and other community leaders has not yet decided whether to submit a proposal. If the group does decide to buy it, a special tax district would need to be established.

“We don’t necessarily need to buy it. We just want someone to come in with a proposal that benefits the Napa community, honors what the Mondavis set out to do and is economically sustainable,” he said.

“We are a little concerned that if the property is sectioned off for this use and that use, we will end up with apples and oranges — uses that aren’t really complementary and not really in the community’s interest,” Mr. Salmon said.

The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone has also publicly expressed interest in at least a portion of the building. A spokesman for the school said it is still “very interested.”

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[caption id="attachment_16125" align="alignright" width="216" caption="Long-time Silverado Resort owner puts historic property up for sale"][/caption]

The 1,200-acre, historic Silverado Resort, known for its championship golf, massive spa and extravagant accommodations, officially went on the market last week.

PKF Capital Inc. was hired to lead the sale earlier this fall, but an official with the company said it has taken until now to gather all the necessary background and marketing materials. The group will begin formally taking offers this week.

The property includes two golf courses, 17 tennis courts, conference space, three restaurants and 10 pools. The hotel’s condo guestrooms and golf course-side homes are privately owned.

“We have been in touch with dozens of people from a broad spectrum of companies, from large hospitality to golf,” said PKF Executive Managing Director Bob Eaton.

Resort operations will not be affected by the sale process.

The current owner Setsuo Okawa, who resides in Japan, purchased the property 20 years ago for about $100 million. The original mansion was constructed in the early 1870s by a retired civil war general.

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Napa hotel occupancy rates dropped year-over-year for the 13th consecutive month in September, though by the lowest margin of change since the last increase in August 2008.

According to the most recent Smith Travel Research report released last week, occupancy fell by 5.6 percent between September 2008 and last month. The rate has experienced negative growth every month since last August, hitting its lowest 36.6 percent in December 2008. The rate was 67.5 last month.

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Napa-based brokerage Strong & Hayden announced the signing of three new downtown eateries last week.

A Thai fusion restaurant called the Mini Mango Thai Bistro will open at 1408 Clay St. and is the brain child of an unnamed Le Cordon Blue California Culinary Academy-trained chef.

Husband and wife restaurant veterans Mauro Pando and Nancy Lindaas Pando will launch their concept at 1400 Second St. Ms. Pando has more than 23 years experience in restaurant management, and her husband has served as chef at several acclaimed kitchens including the Grand Cafe and Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco.

A new cafe and wine bar called the Quattro on Second is opening in the former La Gondola space and is described as “the Four Seasons with an international flair.”

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Submit items for this column to D. Ashley Furness at afurness@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.