Advocating for the business community

The Napa Chamber of Commerce board of directors and its Legislative Action Committee have voted their full support and endorsement of the Archer Hotel project located in the downtown Napa Town Center.

The purpose of the Chamber’s Legislative Action Committee is to identify, study and analyze legislative and public policy issues that concern the business community, and, when deemed appropriate, to recommend a Chamber position on these issues.

The Archer Hotel and its success is very much a concern for local business. The Napa Town Center has sat empty for a long time, and the town and nearby businesses have waited patiently for progress that will reinvigorate the downtown area.

Created with community input and approved by the Napa City Council in 2012, the Downtown Napa Specific Plan provides the guiding framework for realizing the vision of a vibrant city center, including opportunities to develop new projects and rehabilitate existing buildings that will breathe new life into the heart of Napa.

An environmental impact report evaluated the impacts of the plan, which allows for a hotel in the redevelopment of the former town center.

The Archer Hotel project is precisely the kind of development envisioned in the Downtown Specific Plan. It will serve as the cornerstone of the revitalized Napa Town Center and consequently is a critical element in creating a thriving downtown district.

In its plans for the hotel, the developer, Lodgeworks, has more than fulfilled its obligations to rehabilitate the historic portions of the Merrill’s building. However, despite garnering full support from the city of Napa Cultural Heritage Commission and the Planning Commission, as well as the backing of the Napa Chamber, downtown merchants, and a growing and diverse list of residents, the project is being challenged by outside interests.

Appeals to the 5-0 Cultural Heritage Commission decision and the 4-0 Planning Commission decision have been filed, and there may be a California Environmental Quality Act challenge, ostensibly on the grounds of historical preservation of the Merrill Building.

These appeals and challenges will slow the project considerably, harming local businesses and retailers who are eager to see it completed along with the reopening of stores in the town center.

It is crucial that redevelopment of the Napa Town Center and downtown Napa continues and that tactics designed to stall or outright stop the project — especially from groups that appear to have no local or community interest at heart — do not obstruct that progress.

We hope the shared voices of members of the Napa Chamber of Commerce and this community will add to a groundswell of local support that will result in the challenges being withdrawn, allowing this important project to move forward in a timely way.