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Downtown Napa bustles with new retail concepts amid the pandemic

Commercial real estate market reports

Each year, the Business Journal asks experts to write about major transactions, projects and trends in their markets. Read more analysis from the March 15 issue.

I never thought in the same sentence I would state the following. Vacations and a COVID quarantine have a lot in common: They both naturally force families, spouses, significant other and business associates to check out from the digital world and put focus on the future.

A strategy of mine for years has been to show someone property — be sure to include all decision makers — just before they go on vacation so they can clear their minds while on vacation and focus on if that is the right building for their future business.

COVID-19 quarantine has resulted in the same affect. This past month you would be surprised at how many startup business are inquiring to lease space, and a few mature businesses are inquiring to buy a property for their business. There are even new restaurants. While we were totally shut down, the phone rang with ideas for new concepts.

If this is happening in Napa, I am confident that all over the U.S. and perhaps the world people are thinking forward. We have all watched the residential market flourish during a pandemic, and now it is time to recover in the commercial sector.

Office will be the Achilles’ heel for a while. I think home-office fatigue will set in soon. I think the physical workspace will look very different. The work week will have some days at home and some in the office. There will be more large gathering spaces and more recreation areas (with pool, pingpong and Skee Ball tables).

Many employers have polled their workers, and a majority want to stay at home, from the surveys I have read. But come spring, will they feel the same?

Spaces, a 21,000-square-foot facility in downtown Napa is now open and is an alternative to hibernating at home. You can have your own dedicated office for $630 a month or a pass for five, 10 or 30 days for $93 to $226 a month. It’s located in the First Street Napa development in the old McCaulou’s Department store space that was damaged in the 2016 earthquake.

Todd Zapolski of Zapolski Real Estate, which is responsible for the development and ongoing management of First Street Napa, shared with me they placed 15 new tenants in the center in 2020. Yet to come is women’s clothing store Anthropologie. Visit Napa Valley also opened their new visitor center in 2020. The project management’s goal is to have summer programming outdoors with live entertainment.

On Main Street, the old Burger Fi space is in transition to a venue called Lavender Hill, a tropical-themed eatery with a tiki bar and restaurant bringing a Hawaiian sensibility to the edge of Napa Creek. It’s all being spearheaded by the Komeses, proprietors of Flora Springs Winery, and Jon Nathaniel Wines and Bodacious Wines. Plans for the restaurant include an extensive makeover in stone and wood of the building’s corrugated metal façade.

Down the street and around the corner, The Riverfront team is talking to new restaurateurs to open where the popular shuttered Pear, The Corner, and Frati Gelato one were. And opened in the last 11 months were Shoppe Twelve and Shoppe Twelve Girl, clothing stores born out of a photography studio that brought Sarah Lane national and international recognition.

There is much to be grateful for in the fabric of our business community, but what is at the forefront is the future: Every business open for customers to come and enjoy the fruits of their labors as we return to healthy living. COVID-19 has taken a toll on lives of loved ones and many businesses. As we move forward, we wish all business owners old and new the best and most profitable results in 2021.

Cathy D’Angelo Holmes is part of the Napa Commercial Team at Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley. She came to Coldwell Banker Commercial in 2006.

Commercial real estate market reports

Each year, the Business Journal asks experts to write about major transactions, projects and trends in their markets. Read more analysis from the March 15 issue.

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