By Kate Snyder
A more than 300-acre development in American Canyon is getting more filled out. City officials recently approved plans for the Watson Ranch Hotel at the Ruins, a 200-room hotel that when completed would be one of the largest hotels in Napa Valley.
The American Canyon Planning Commission voted in favor of issuing a design permit for the project during its meeting on Jan. 26. The meeting included a public hearing and both public comments as well as commissioner comments indicated support and excitement for the project.
“The project looks great,” said Eric Altman, planning commissioner. “The little bit of pictures I’ve seen of the hotel look good.”
The project consists of both the hotel and 30 private residences on a 19.75-acre site in the Watson Ranch Specific Plan mixed-use zoning district. The hotel is proposed as a three-story structure totaling approximately 173,000 square feet with multifunction rooms, two swimming pools and a spa.
The separate residential units range from 2,065 square feet to 2,695 square feet each. Each of the proposed 15 residential buildings would house two units, and the styles would be a mix of 18 flats and 12 townhomes The architecture for the project as a whole would feature modern industrial designs.
An entity affiliated with McGrath Properties, Inc., is developing the project. McGrath Properties is an Oakland-based real estate development firm that is also the owner and developer of Watson Ranch.
The project is located north of the Vintage Ranch residential subdivision, east of the Napa Valley & Ruins, northeast of the Artisan subdivision and west of a medium density residential zoned space. Access to the hotel would come from the construction of a new road.
Terrence McGrath, founder of McGrath Properties, presented to city officials the thought process behind the hotel’s location in the Watson Ranch development – not too close but not too far from the private residences.
“I wanted these private residences to have connectivity to the hotel,” he said, “but I also wanted them to be spatially far enough away where they didn’t encroach on the hotel and the hotel didn’t encroach on the private residences.”
In November 2018, the Watson Ranch Specific Plan was approved by the city. The WRSP is a comprehensive planning document designed to guide the future development of the 309-acre WRSP area, which has been designated as an integral part of the city’s General Plan. The proposed plan is intended to add to the city new residential neighborhoods and the Napa Valley Ruins & Gardens as a new town center. Watson Ranch is also slated to include a new elementary school, multiple parks and extensive bike and pedestrian trails connecting the project and surrounding community to the Newell Open Space Preserve.
McGrath Properties is a real estate investment and development company focused on acquiring underutilized commercial properties, according to the firm’s website. McGrath founded the company in 1996, and since then, the firm has acquired more than one million square feet of commercial buildings plus substantial undeveloped land holdings. McGrath Properties’ portfolio includes mixed-use, residential, retail, office and industrial buildings, parking facilities and undeveloped land. The company is also actively developing several large commercial properties, including the Watson Ranch project, and entitling several other large mixed-use projects that will include residential, commercial and retail uses.