New project profiles: $50 million The Riverfront transforms Napa

Also: Ex-school site in Geyserville now commercial, condos

Editor’s note: The Business Journal features profiles of North Bay construction projects that are complete or nearly so. Send details to or fax to 707-521-5292.

The Riverfront

588-790 Main St., Napa

Owner: Channel Properties, Richmond

Developer: River Front Construction LLC

Description: A mixed-use structure with 40,000 square feet of retail space, 30,000 square feet of offices, 50 residential condominiums and underground parking for 229 vehicles on 1.34 acres of Napa River frontage

Completion: Spring 2009

Architect: Johnson Lyman Architects, Walnut Creek

General contractor: Ledcor Builders Inc., Napa

Engineering: mechanical – MK2 Engineering Inc., Napa; civil – Riechers Spence Associates, Napa; structural – Peoples Associates Structural Engineers, Milpitas, and KPFF of Portland, Ore.; electrical – MK2

Lenders: Mechanics Bank and Pacific National Bank

Cost: $50 million

Pricing: Negotiated

Tenants/occupants: Morgan Stanley, 8,400 square feet; 10 condos reserved

Representation: residential – The Reiser Group, Alamo; retail – Main Street Property Services Inc., Lafayette

The Riverfront, located at the southeast corner of Third and Main streets, is one of a handful of major mixed-use projects under construction or completed recently in Napa, but this project actually has been 10 years in progress.

Napa resident Mike DeSimoni Sr., president of Channel Lumber in Richmond and its real estate arm, Channel Properties, wanted to build a commercial project on the Noyes Lumber Yard property the family owned directly across the river at the southwest corner of Soscol Avenue and Third.

However, the river needed to be widened there as part of the now half-done flood-control project. In a purchase of land north of the Old Napa Mill property at Fifth and Main streets plus a land swap across the river with the county, Mr. DeSimoni assembled a project site now part of Napa’s newly completed river promenade.

Having grown up in Europe, Mr. DeSimoni wanted the architecture to reflect not only the look but the land-use philosophy, now known in the U.S. as “new urbanism.”

“We did research and found the in thing was going to be having people move back to the city to live and have offices near downtown,” Mr. DeSimoni said.

Integral to that philosophy, too, was supplying on-site parking, which meant putting the cars underground and partly below the water table. It took two structural engineering firms to make that happen and for a lot less than originally anticipated in analyses of San Francisco projects, according to Mr. DeSimoni. “As the city matures, underground parking will be a good investment,” he said.

Mr. DeSimoni also credits his firm’s success in renovating the Winship and Alexandria Square buildings in downtown Napa recently for the success in gaining city support for the Riverfront.

Ten of the 50 residential condominiums on one September night this year were reserved for sale once the project is complete by spring 2009. The office space will be anchored by Morgan Stanley, and a top-end restaurant is in the works to create a draw for the retail space.

Yet Mr. DeSimoni anticipates the current doldrums in housing and business will “test” the project over the next year. Still, he’s positive on its eventual success.

“We have the right location and done definitely the right building, and with that we will get the right tenants that are right for the city of Napa and good for the project,” he said.

Old School House Plaza

100 School House Lane, Geyserville

Owner: The Mildred M. Vail Living Trust

Developers: Steve Vail and Bud Waddell

Description: A 19,000-square-foot building with six one- to three-bedroom residential condominiums upstairs and eight commercial or retail condos downstairs on 1.42 acres

Completion: September 2008

Architect: James McCracken, Napa

General contractor: Meritage Builders Inc., Napa

Engineering: civil – Howard Brunner, PLS, Healdsburg; structural – Jeff Woods; electrical – Taylor Electric, Geyserville; soils – Bauer and Associates, Geotechnical Consultants, Forestville; surveying and land-planning – Dimensions 4 Engineering Inc., Santa Rosa

Lender: Sonoma National Bank, now part of Sterling Bank

Cost: $5.1 million

Pricing: Commercial space rents for $2 a square foot or sells for $340 a square foot. Asking prices for residential condos start at $400,000.

Occupants: U.S. Post Office, Vail and Associates Realtors, Vail Real Estate Development LLC and Vail Financial Resources LLC. Five commercial units with 5,500 square feet and four residential condos are available.

Representation: Vail and Associates Realtors, Geyserville, 707-838-4850

This project brings the modern style of compact residential-commercial development to the unincorporated areas of Sonoma County.

Geyserville High School was there for seven decades until its demolition in the mid-1990s. Redevelopment ideas floated included a hotel, commercial or retail space and dwellings. A two-story, 18-unit commercial-retail project was approved in 2004.

Steve Vail and Bud Waddell acquired the project and requested that residential condos replace the top-floor commercial units. The county Planning Commission approved the change in April 2007.

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