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[caption id="attachment_22780" align="alignleft" width="313" caption="Zephyr Express is set to relocate to this recently vacated warehouse in south Napa. (Cushman & Wakefield photo)"][/caption]

About 265,000 square feet in wine warehouse deals were inked recently in the south Napa area, with 164,000 square feet of that being net market absorption.

"Large-warehouse vacancy was over 10 percent, but now it's in the single digits," said Glen Dowling, whose Cushman & Wakefield team was part of the deals. But he said there remains some slack in the market. "The market is not tight," he said.

Wine storage and California delivery service Zephyr Express is set to relocate this month from American Canyon to a 101,200-square-foot temperature-controlled warehouse at 770 Skyway Court in Napa Valley Corporate Park near Napa County Airport.

Napa-based Biagi Bros. Transportation & Storage moved out of the building in April. Zephyr leaves behind about 100,000 square feet at 1166 Commerce Blvd. in American Canyon.

North Hollywood-based Zephyr Express started in 1985 and expanded to American Canyon in 2003.

The second deal brought the two-building, 315,000-square-foot Napa Valley Crossroads warehouse development at the northeast corner of the intersection of Jamieson Canyon Road and Highway 29 to full occupancy. St. Helena-based Trinchero Family Estates, which makes wine brands such as Sutter Home and Folie a Deux, expanded its casegoods storage in Napa Valley with the lease of the 163,700-square-foot newest building at 37 Executive Way.

Mr. Dowling, Matt Bracco and Chris Neeb of Cushman & Wakefield represented 770 Skyway owner-builders JRC Development and Panattoni Development in the three-year lease deal, and Steve Crocker of Colliers International represented Zephyr. The Cushman & Wakefield team also brokered both sides of the 37 Executive deal.

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Hundreds of thousands of square feet of big-box retail space has gone dark in the North Bay in the past two years, but a number of the spaces are getting scooped up by retailers looking to reduce the cost of expanding into the market.

For example, Fairfield had 153,000 square feet of vacant space in empty Circuit City, Linens n' Things and Mervyn's stores in its central shopping center hub until recently, according to city economic development specialist Karl Dumas.

Developers Diversified Realty's June 23 sale of its leasehold on the 88,000-square-foot Mervyn's location in Westfield Solano mall to a group led by Westfield paves the way for a deal to move Forever 21 into the Solano market with a lease for the top floor, sans escalator.

Driven Raceway of Rohnert Park recently leased the Circuit City building across the street from the mall, and a few retailers are competing for part or all of the 32,000-square-foot Linens building. The city also is selling land to Lowe's Home Improvement to build a warehouse store starting in spring 2011.

"Having these types of spaces filled would make a huge difference for us to make the case for new development that would attract other retailers to come into the market," Mr. Dumas said.

Earlier this year, Inland Western leased the 78,000-square-foot Mervyn's building in Vacaville Commons to Burlington Coat Factory.

Other vacant Mervyn's buildings in the North Bay are getting attention. TJ Maxx is doing initial hiring for a Petaluma store, rumored to be in the empty store there, and Forever 21 is going into a floor of the vacant Santa Rosa store.

The city of Santa Rosa sent a team in May to the International Council of Shopping Centers mega annual trade show after a few years' absence to drum up interest in some larger vacant spaces, according to economic development specialist Nancy Manchester.

"We remain really hopeful that we can fill the vacancies by helping the commercial brokers and the malls," she said.

Santa Rosa's retail vacancy rate has been about 9 percent since early 2009 after staying between 3 percent and 5 percent for several years, according to brokerage Keegan & Coppin.

Key vacancies include Sawyer's News downtown, Circuit City farther south on Santa Rosa Avenue and Kmart at the north end of the city, should the retailer vacate when the lease expires next year.

The vacant Gottschalk's co-anchor at Coddingtown Mall is rumored to have floor-sized prospects, but mall co-owner Simon Property Group has kept tight-lipped on progress toward a deal.

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[caption id="attachment_22783" align="alignleft" width="130" caption="Ralph Cole"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_22787" align="alignright" width="137" caption="Vic Brown"][/caption]

Four agents and brokers affiliated with Orion Partners, which closed earlier this year, have landed new associations.

Vic Brown, one of the first agents with Orion when the brokerage started in 1996, joined San Rafael-based brokerage HL Commercial Real Estate. He was at Grubb & Ellis for 10 years before joining Orion. Now Mr. Brown is senior vice president at HL, specializing in high-profile development properties.

Ralph Cole, who received his real estate broker's license in 1947 and was another founding agent of Orion, now is working independently in San Rafael with agent Sava Kaufbusch Jr., formerly with North Beach Properties.

[caption id="attachment_22784" align="alignleft" width="143" caption="Randy Beisler"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_22781" align="alignright" width="137" caption="Bill Hart"][/caption]

Randy Beisler, who joined Orion in 2000 and has been involved in Bay Area real estate since 1985, just set up a brokerage office in the Sausalito headquarters of residential and commercial real estate developer The Innisfree Companies.

Bill Hart, who started in commercial real estate in Keegan & Coppin's Larkspur office in 2000 then joined Orion, now is a commercial broker associate in the San Rafael office of Bradley Real Estate.

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Submit items for this column to Jeff Quackenbush at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4256 or fax 707-521-5292.