1st phase of 2.4 million-square-foot Napa Valley warehouse project approved

Drought-era questions about water supply between neighboring cities in Napa and Solano counties caused a monthlong delay in considering a planned 208-acre industrial park.

But the American Canyon City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved environmental and first-phase planning documents for the Giovannoni Logistics Center project south of Devlin Road near the Napa County Airport industrial area.

“It’s been a long process to get here,” Mayor Leon Garcia said after votes. “I’m glad we were able to conclude it.”

One of Vallejo’s city attorneys had asserted to the council at its Feb. 22 meeting that the project environmental impact report makes assumptions that haven’t been resolved in a legal water battle between the two cities. That led the council to put off further deliberation on the project to the Tuesday meeting.

American Canyon sued Vallejo last year after the Solano County city contemplated cutbacks in how much water the southern Napa County city would get under a 26-year-old agreement, Napa Valley Register reported.

“The litigation over the 1996 Agreement is in its early stages and it would be speculative to assume that it will result in any particular outcome,” wrote American Canyon legal counsel Alexis Stevens and Kelley Taber of Somach Simmons & Dunn in a March 20 memo to City Attorney Bill Ross.

The Giovannoni project would be even larger than the massive Napa Logistics Park recently completed just to the north, also in American Canyon.

Developer Buzz Oates Companies of Sacramento plans to build three food and beverage industry–oriented warehouses with 2.4 million square feet on 163 acres, leaving 45 acres for open space and wetlands.

Phase 1 would have two “high-cube” warehouses, according to city documents. Such warehouses typically have a “clear height” of 42 feet, the height under which product can be stacked.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to certify the project EIR and approving the water assessment as well as the design permit and tentative parcel map for phase 1: 1.07 million square feet on 70.2 acres.

Initial design on one of the two buildings in phase 1 is set to begin immediately toward a goal of breaking ground by year-end or in the first quarter of 2024, depending on finalization of project entitlements, Kevin Ramos, Buzz Oates chief investment officer told the Business Journal.

The first phase is forecast to cost roughly $300 million to build, Ramos said.

There are no tenants lined up so far, but some discussions with unnamed companies is progressing ahead of locking in project entitlements, Ramos said. Bill Kampton and Phil Garrett from Colliers International’s Fairfield office are marketing the project.

Phase 2 is envisioned to be a 1.3 million-square-foot high-cube warehouse on 113.1 acres.

If built, it could be larger than the 1.23 million-square-foot warehouse set for completion this summer at the Midway Commerce Center project in Vacaville in northern Solano County.

The only pushback from the City Council on the Giovannoni project on Tuesday came from Mark Joseph, who wanted an additional condition of parcel-map approval that vehicle miles traveled be tracked and reported to the city annually based on the home ZIP codes of each employee of any tenants at the development.

Joe Livaich, Buzz Oates vice president for planning and construction services, responded that the project team would be tracking such miles, commonly called VMTs, during construction. That already was a condition of approval.

Estimates for truck trips in the project environmental report were based on traffic modeling from cellphone data across nine Bay Area counties and in American Canyon. The projection was that VMTs were 40% lower in the city than the Bay Area average, Livaich said.

“If it's ZIP codes of employees, that's one thing,“ Livaich said. ”But the ability to — certainly without consent — track them, that we can’t do. Many tenants may have issues with that, of literally tracking their workers.“

Joseph suggested that such tracking and reporting could be something added to the city’s business licenses.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before coming to the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Reach him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

Update, March 24, 2023: Project timeline and cost details from Kevin Ramos of Buzz Oates Group of Companies were added.

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