A small, but very ugly stretch of road on south Soscol Avenue will soon be history.
The site of the old La Bamba Bar, on the north side of Tulocay Creek adjacent to the Hawthorne Inn and Suites, has been demolished, leaving nothing but a barren piece of ground with a one-brick-high wall surrounding what was once a rowdy nighttime hot spot.
The remaining building next to the former La Bamba is vacant and scheduled to be reduced to rubble in the very near future, according to property owner and Napa icon George Altamura.
Altamura got a use permit from the city planning commission in October 2010 to build a 90-room, four-story hotel on the 2.49 acre site he owns, just south of where Silverado Trail and Soscol Avenue merge.
But apart from last week's removal of the graffiti-covered La Bamba, little has changed.
“I’m not doing much right now about the hotel plans. I am just clearing the property and trying to make it pretty,” Altamura said on Monday from his Napa office.
“That property is a real eyesore for Napa. I want to get rid of it,” he said.
As far as to when plans for the hotel will get into gear, Altamura didn't say.
“I don’t move too fast. I have to think of what is good for me and my business,” he said.
Altamura also would not say who will operate the hotel when it is built.
“I could build it for me or someone else. If my son wants to be there every day during construction, maybe that’s the way I will go. I don’t want to be there every day,” he said.
In addition to city permits and building requirements, Altamura also has to deal with the fact the ground has been determined to be an ancient Wappo Indian burial site, according to Kevin Eberle, Napa City senior planner.
“The city approved Altamura’s use permit in October 2010,” he said. “We also got an archeology study and report confirming it is an ancient burial grounds.”
Eberle said mitigations have been included to protect the burial grounds and artifacts.
“We have consulted with the Wappo tribe and provisions are in force to ensure nothing will be at risk,” he said.
Although construction is allowed on such sites, the main goal to to protect the artifacts, Eberle said.
“There will very little excavation, and extra dirt will be brought in.”
Although few will shed a tear seeing the old La Bamba absent from Soscol Avenue, a little bit of Napa history is gone as well.
According to a story published on April 24, 2011, the La Bamba Bar was housed in the former Jack’s Club.
A favorite watering hole during and following World War II, Jack’s Club was where swing-shift workers from Basalt and Mare Island headed for refreshment after work and many stopped to cash their paychecks on Friday night. according to the Register article.