[caption id="attachment_70228" align="alignright" width="200"] Cathy D'Angelo Holmes[/caption]

Drive along First Street in downtown Napa, and you might find yourself saying, "It looks like 'they' haven't done a thing in the last year."

That is so not true. In mid-2012, Napa Town Center was purchased by developer Todd Zapolski, who has renamed it The Shops at Town Center. A name change was the easy part. Reformatting 150,000 square feet and adding a new hotel is no small task in the world of retail development.

Nonetheless, citizens of Napa are getting restless, and they want to know who is coming to town. Mr. Zapolski wants to make a single announcement of the hotel brand and surrounding retailers, probably by this summer.

So while Napans patiently wait, the mounting anticipation, coupled with the many positive steps taken in recent years, continue to attract new retailers who want to be in Napa now. In the past few weeks, among the prospective clients who have contacted me were four women in their 30s seeking assistance to find available retail space. They were searching for square footage in downtown for a spa, a children's clothing store, a store for women's clothing and a trendy shoe shop. 

One of the women, who's married and has a child, just moved to the area from Southern California. She and her husband chose Napa as the best place to raise their child, prior to choosing where to locate their business.

Another is a native Napan and mother of four, and the other two grew up in Napa and are returning home. What a statement about the energy and enthusiasm of this 30-something generation and about what the Napa community has to offer for families and businesses.

While I was showing property to one of these businesswomen, she asked me why we had to limit our search to empty storefronts. She wondered if we could contact current store owners to see if anyone was thinking about retiring. So, we did. We're now negotiating to buy a store owner out of his lease. Ask me who is coming to Napa, and I can tell you it is Generation Y.

The influx of new local retailers and some larger stores that will be accommodated at The Shops at Napa Center will make a trip to downtown Napa a vibrant shopping experience. Of course, we will continue to have many great restaurants -- there are a few new ones and more in the works. But the addition of "soft goods" is what the consumers -- locals and visitors alike -- have been waiting for.