Rising majestically on the west bank of the Napa River, the pioneering Riverfront mixed-use development spans two blocks at 588 and 798 Main St. between Third and Fifth streets in Napa.  Part of the city’s downtown renaissance, this European-style urban village has 15 ground-level retail spaces, 28,000 square feet of office space and 50 residential condominiums with excellent views towering three stories above a river walk that stretches 12 miles through the city.


“The vision of project owner and developer Michael DeSimoni Sr., president of Channel Lumber Co. in Richmond and its real estate arm, Channel Properties, was to create a lasting contribution to the downtown area in the form of a beautiful landmark the city could be proud of as well as a place that would become a premier destination for visitors,” said Dave Johnson, partner with Johnson Lyman Architects LLP.  “After a careful review of Napa’s design guidelines and the architectural context of the city, we created a design that both evokes and respects the characteristics of Napa’s historical architectural heritage while maintaining its own individuality and unique design statement.”


The commercial northern portion of the Riverfront consists of ground-level retail with two levels of offices above – including anchor tenant Morgan Stanley that occupied 8,400 square feet in May 2009.  The southern portion consists of ground-level retail with three levels of residences above.  Both buildings are connected by an architectural bridge at Fourth Street that provides visual continuity for the project while also supplying a dramatic archway over the promenade to the river.


Residential units come in six floor plans ranging from 24 one-bedroom/one-bath units with 920 square feet to 22 two-bedroom/two-bath units with 1,850 square feet. Three larger three-bedroom units with two or three baths and a den were designed with from 2,000 to 2,134 square feet of floor space. Other units completing the total of 50 residential properties reflect variations of these three basic plans.  


“Demand has been rising for these upscale residences priced from the low $400,000s up to $1.2 million,” said Ryan Parlett, real estate development manager for Channel Properties. “I believe a trend is emerging among those who appreciate the amenities of urban life and who also want the convenience of having underground parking while also being able to walk to virtually all of the shopping, dining and entertainment venues in the area.”


Mr. DeSimoni, a resident of Napa, shared a vision with other city landlords to eventually provide up to 120,000 square feet of mixed-use development with adequate parking to provide easy access to downtown destinations. The Riverfront is unique among new center-city projects evidenced by its two subterranean floors of on-site parking with a total of 229 spaces. The lower floor has 65 stalls for residents, and the upper level provides ample space for office tenants and retail customers with three hours of free parking granted for shoppers and diners.


Three world-class restaurateurs are already confirmed retail tenants.  Renowned super chef and “Iron Chef” TV star Masaharu Morimoto will be bringing his contemporary Japanese cuisine to the Riverfront along with a sushi bar, lounge and an outdoor patio dining area.  This will be his first enterprise on the West Coast. He currently has restaurants in New York City and Philadelphia as well as in Florida and India.


Tyler Florence Rotisserie & Wine will also be part of this new downtown waterfront complex featuring traditional Parisian slow-roast rotisserie favorites, his famous salads, seasonal soups and decadent desserts that will highlight the special flavors found in California’s local ingredients.  A wine shop will occupy a portion of this 2,200-square-foot cafe. He also plans to open the second Tyler Florence Shop (his Mill Valley location opened last fall), specializing in French copper cookware and culinary tools, Italian olive oils, antique chopping blocks, cookbooks and local artisan products.  This shop will occupy another 1,400 square feet of prime retail space at the Riverfront.


The Lark Creek Restaurant Group, founded by Napa’s own Michael Dellar and celebrity chef Bradley Ogden, is the third member of this all-star culinary triple play.  They will be opening a 4,100-square-foot seafood experience at the corner of Third and Main at the Riverfront.  This new location will be a welcome complement to the partners' other venues at One Market in San Francisco and Bradley Ogden in Las Vegas.


Leased space has also been taken by Napa River Velo, a cycling boutique catering to first-time riders up to Tour de France champions.  This existing Napa firm plans to relocate to the Riverfront and occupy 2,805 square feet.  It will market high-performance bikes and related apparel and accessories while also offering custom fittings, personalized coaching and guided tours throughout the year.


The Riverfront’s building forms are distinctly urban while incorporating a diverse mix of round and octagon shaped ashlar stone towers and parapets accented with pitched tile and copper roofs.  A number of varied window expressions and placements have been deployed in the project along with an array of two-story glass wall treatments and a combination of rectangular and arched window typologies.


To fully appreciate the beautiful views of the river and surrounding hills, loggia balconies were created at the upper levels.  The residential open-air courtyard and garden area will allow property owners to take advantage of fine outdoor weather and the connection to the river.


Varied aluminum, glass and wood storefronts will be incorporated as well as a combination of awning shapes and colors to provide diverse building facades. A variety of cornice detailing includes brackets and corbels with bold overhangs that create strong and dramatic shadow lines.


According to Mark Funseth, asset manager for Channel Properties, “More than 29 percent of the 50 residential properties have closed or are currently in contract.  In addition, 30 percent of the office space is committed along with 49 percent of the retail space.”


Occupancy dates for office space began in May of 2009 and for retail during the past summer. Residential occupancy commenced in September of this year with a grand opening for the entire project scheduled for summer 2010.