It’s been 13 years since the plan was hatched to transform a 154-acre riverfront industrial plant south of Napa into a mixed-use community for hundreds of residents and businesses. It may not look like a lot is happening at the sprawling former Napa Pipe property, but the project actually is a passing a major milestone.
Yes, project entitlements were secured from the city and county of Napa six years ago, around the time that a major commercial tenant — Costco Wholesale — was lined up. But lurking literally under the surface was a significant worry for many real estate developers, particularly for an industrial plant operated for decades before strict state and federal environmental rules arrived.
“The biggest task for us after entitlement was to make it a clean site,” said Keith Rogal, head of Napa Redevelopment Partners LLC.
That was a big undertaking and is nearing completion.
The site first went into industrial use in the mid-1930s as a sand and gravel quarry. Basalt Rock Company then spun the helm toward shipbuilding abruptly in 1941 as the U.S. entered World War II. The plant’s four former drydocks along the Napa River are reminders of that history, where about 150 oil tankers, mine layers and salvage tugs were constructed for the war effort, according to the Napa Valley Register.
In the decades after World War II, the former rock quarry and ship building site transitioned to making very large steel structures: distribution pipes for Napa County’s Lake Hennessey reservoir, transbay tubes for Bay Area Rapid Transit, offshore oil rigs.
Southern California-based Kaiser Steel, an early funding source for the family fortune that funded the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization, purchased the plant from Basalt in 1955. Oregon Steel Mills bought the plant in 1987, reopening it after a year idle, and ran it until its closure in 2004. The property was sold to Napa Redevelopment Partners a year later.
The years of production led to soil and groundwater contamination by diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, motor oil, solvents and metals, according to San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board documents.
The first of four approved phases for the Napa Pipe redevelopment project involves restoration of wetlands that bisect the southeastern corner of the property and just north of Bedford Slough, finish underground remediation for the Costco store and gas station site on the eastern edge of the property, and construction of access roads and bridges to the store from Kaiser Road to the north and Anselmo Court to the south.
SCALE OF REMEDIATION
Quarry-scale machinery started rolling onto the site last fall to tear down existing buildings, find the extent of contamination that needed to be cleaned and move around the soil and rubble. Project consultants worked with water board staff to delineate the problem soil and work through the details of a remedial design and implementation plan that was approved seven years prior.
About 160,000 cubic yards of soil were removed from the site and processed for contaminants, Rogal said. It can be difficult to grasp how much material that is, but think of it this way: The soil flagged for remediation at Napa Pipe could have filled the 48,000-cubic-yard rotunda at the U.S. Capitol — the circular room under the dome — roughly three and a half times.
Napa Pipe project
Size: 154 acres
Address: 1025 Kaiser Road, Napa
Developer: Napa Redevelopment Partners, LLC
Cost at buildout: $500 million (estimated)
- Mid-1930s: Plant opened as sand and gravel quarry
- 1941: Plant converts to a shipyard for the World War II effort
- Post-World War II: Plant shifts to large industrial projects
- 2004: Plant closed
- 2005: Napa Redevelopment Partners purchases the land
- 2012: Costco Wholesale store is added to the project. Development agreement is approved.
- Fall 2017: Site remediation starts.
- Late 2018-Early 2019: Remediation set for completion.
- 2020-2021: Costco Wholesale store could open.
Development website: AHomeForNapans.com
Project documents submitted to Napa County: countyofnapa.org/787/Napa-Pipe-Project