NAPA -- A major proposed redevelopment of 156,000-square-foot shopping center in the heart of downtown Napa will go forward after the Napa City Council unanimously approved a 20-year plan to guide the area’s development and the months-long suitor for the property purchased it.

The acquisition of Napa Town Center by NTC Shops, LLC., hinged significantly on the finalization of the Downtown Napa Specific Plan, according to an announcement from the buyer. The mall is expected to reopen as The Shops at Napa Center in 2013. Zapolski Real Estate, LLC, is coordinating redevelopment.

“From a timing perspective, the passage of the Downtown Specific Plan was critical to getting our deal done,” said Todd Zapolski, founding and managing member of Zapolski Real Estate, in a statement. "As well, there is a broad-level buzz about the revitalization of downtown Napa, and this redevelopment will play a key role in furthering that."

The area involves an outdoor shopping area and three adjacent parcels that run along two city blocks of First Street, along with the multi-tenant Dunne Building that Zapolski purchased in October 2011.

Napa Town Center has had high commercial-space vacancy in recent years. Current tenants include Ben & Jerry’s, Gillwoods Cafe, GNC, McCaulou’s, Mustard Seed Clothing Co., Napa Valley Jewelers and Napa Valley Toy Company.

The Kohl’s department store adjacent to the center was not purchased.

The first aspects of physical redevelopment are set for completion in late 2013. The planned aesthetic reflects “the modern agrarian feel that is authentic to Napa,” according to the developer. The new configuration will also include kiosk-type spaces that will “help encourage the incubation of new businesses.”

Originally constructed in 1987, Napa Town Center was purchased in 2002 by the Altamura family, major property owners in Napa and its environs, and Napa-based malpractice insurance carrier The Doctors Company. Strong & Hayden Commercial Real Estate represented both the seller and the purchaser in the transaction.

The Napa City Council unanimously approved a new Downtown Specific Plan on Tuesday, completing a three-year process that promises to remake traffic circulation, land-use zoning and other key aspects of development over the next two decades.

With several combined resolutions, the council certified the environmental impact report for the plan, related amendments to the city’s General Plan and the first reading of an ordinance that paves the way for rezoning involved in the plan.

Traffic circulation remained the largest concern for the public and the plan’s 15-member steering committee during planning, a frequent issue expressed during the 30 public meetings held during the visioning process, said Julianne Ward, long-range planner for the City of Napa.

“The purpose was to provide a community-based visioning process for the future of our downtown,” said Ms. Ward, to the council.

The eight chapters of the plan outline a number of directions for long-term development. In addition to traffic and parking concerns, the plan outlines an overall aesthetic direction, permitting requirements, utilities and streetscape designs for the area. Those directives apply to the 210-acre area bounded on the east by the Napa River, south by Division and Third streets, west by Jefferson Street and north by an approximate line bordering residential areas.

The plan is intended to be implemented in two 10-year periods.

The first 10 years will involve significant work on streets and utilities. First, Second and portions of Third and Fourth streets will be converted to two-way streets from Main Street to Jefferson Street, a “first priority for circulation improvements,” according to plan documents. Other improvements include paving, striping, landscaping, signage and traffic signal work.

The first phase is expected to cost $28.8 million, paid through sources including existing developer impact fees, utility fees, a possible downtown area sales tax or property tax and possible state and federal transportation grants.

Phase 2 is expected to cost $9.4 million, bringing the total cost of the plan to $38.2 million. That phase involves several public space upgrades, including a conversion of Coombs Street Plaza to “a slow-traffic, shared, one-way street northbound or when Napa Town Center is redeveloped, to a two-way street, to help restore the grid,” according to the plan documents.