By Meghan Hall
Zapolski Real Estate is on a mission to transform downtown Napa and has emerged as the town’s main center of gravity when it comes to the town’s redevelopment. Over the past decade, the firm has spent more than $500 million in commercial real estate projects as part of its efforts in Napa, and now it has announced its intentions to redevelop the site of Napa’s Kohl’s department store at the corner of First and Main Streets. Redevelopment of the site will be a $250 million undertaking—making it downtown Napa’s largest private development project to-date.
“[The Kohl’s site] is over two acres…so it’s one of the most key sites in all of Napa,” explained Zapolski Real Estate’s Director Andrew Mazotti. “When we purchased it, we had the intent that one day we were going to look at some sort of redevelopment, but we didn’t know what; we didn’t know when. Now, as First Street Napa and the shops are really starting to come together, we felt it was a great idea to start exploring an idea of that site.”
The Kohl’s project will usher in the second phase of the First Street Napa project which Zapolski Real Estate first began tackling nearly a decade ago. The first initial phase of the project included 325,000 square feet of retail, dining, hotel and creative office space spanning three city blocks. The 183-key Archer Hotel, also part of the development, opened its doors in 2018, and most recently, Zapolski Real Estate has been working on its $15million renovation of the historic Gordon Building. The repositioned building made its public debut in February of this year.
With about 70 percent of Phase One leased to a variety of retailers including Copperfield’s Books, Wade Cellars, Cupcake, I-Elle, CYCLESOCIETY, Compass Realty and others, Zapolski Real Estate has decided there is no better time than to turn its attention to the Kohl’s project. Currently, the firm is working with the City of Napa to draft a development agreement and mixed-use development site plan.
The building uses at the Kohl’s property will look to provide the one asset class that downtown Napa is missing: housing.
“You want your downtown to be live-work-play,” said Mazotti. “And we have got a ton of play; that’s what Napa does. And we have got a good amount of work, law firms, financial firms and others. But in the core of downtown, we have zero housing.”
While the project is still in its earliest phases, Zapolski Real Estate believes that multifamily housing, supported by hospitality and experiential retail uses, would be the best combination of uses as Napa continues to grow. The proposed 120 units would be specifically for-rent, in an effort to appeal to the local population who already works and plays in downtown Napa. As the project gets off the ground, the current Kohl’s store will be relocated to a different asset in the Napa submarket.
“We really thought that with the acreage here and the density that we could do, that this was a site that we could really make out to pencil. That’s the lead idea,” Mazotti added.
Even as economic conditions continue to fluctuate as a result of coronavirus—with hospitality and retail among the asset classes being hit the hardest—Mazotti is confident that Napa will continue to grow.
“We are heavily invested in the Napa Valley,” said Mazotti. “We feel that we don’t want to see this pandemic slow down the progress that we have, along with other developers and city staff and stakeholders within the community have worked so hard to build.”
Zapolski Real Estate hopes to break ground sometime in 2022, at which point many will hope that the current health and economic crises will have passed. The goal will be to build the entire project in a single phase. The project team also intends to build flexibility into the development’s planning; allocations for hospitality and retail can be adjusted with more of an emphasis placed on housing if need be. The overall hope is to give the Napa community a sense of the transformation to come.
“These projects are definitely substantial for Napa, especially for downtown,” said Mazotti. “What we really want is to let the region know that during this time of coronavirus and panic, when people are retracting, we are really doing the opposite. I think that’s the positive underlying message that is bigger than the project itself.”