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Who Should Buy the Borreo?

The landmark stone building on the Napa River is up for sale by the city, and a variety of potential owners have indicated interest. What do you think should happen there?

Built in 1887, the Borreo Building is either the oldest or the second oldest commercial building in Napa: "There is a debate over the relative ages of the Borreo and the former laundry on Clinton St. that is now the Vintners Collective," wrote .

The landmark building, made of native stone quarried from the Soda Canyon area, represents "a melting pot of Napa’s mercantile history," Bors wrote: Its 9,000 square feet have housed a grocery and feed store, a shirt factory, a winery, an automobile agency and a drayage warehouse and even a second-story "dance hall and social center known as 'Egyptian Hall.'"

Owned by the city since 1966, designated a historical landmark in 1977 and retrofitted for seismic safety in 2006, the Borreo — now a handsome shell of a building — is up for sale.

Among the possible buyers who have shown interest so far are a motorcycle designer with a TV show, local scuptor Gordon Huether and the , whose CEO told the city council his group had enough money to buy the building outright and use part of it for offices while renting the rest and potentially making a room available for community use.

Local arts advocates have longed for a community arts center on the site, which has limited parking and no windows on the river side.

According to a December, 2011 report in the , the Borreo is valued at $400,000 as is, but if developers were guaranteed the right to add windows and offsite parking, it could be worth $1 million.

What do you think would be the best new use for the Borreo Building? Share your visions in our comments section.

Michael Terrien April 05, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Nothing "iffy" about http://borreowinery.com: a community-based effort to develop a not-for-profit winery telling the story of vineyard land in Napa Valley. The Borreo Winery is one of four proposals submitted by the Feb 17th deadline. Here is a more recent Register article that hits on all four: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/four-vying-for-borreo-building-ownership/article_c4783116-5ead-11e1-b098-0019bb2963f4.html Having a national TV celebrity host his show from downtown would have its benefits, but Choppers aren't why millions visit Napa Valley. The Land Trust is in perfect alignment with the goals of the Borreo Winery (to promote the preservation of open land), but offices are boring. Co-locating the winery on the ground floor could be a solution for all to be happy (except, alas, Choppaheads!) Michael Terrien Lead Organizer Borreo Winery Cooperative and Charitable Foundation
Mike Treleven April 05, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Save Napa history. The wrecking ball is already done too much damage to downtown Napa. Get real and do what it takes to save this jewel.
Louisa Hufstader April 05, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Good to hear from you, Mr. Terrien! I am sorry I missed that other Register article and glad you jumped into the conversation. I added "co-op non-profit winery" to the poll, too; and I'll just remind folks that these polls are simply for our mutual amusement and not a scientific finding of any facts.
Cathy Gumina Odom April 10, 2012 at 01:24 AM
So many great ideas, lots of needs around here in Napa! But centers, music, wineries, all would need lots of parking spaces and this one just has what, 6? The motorcycle shop seems to be the best for me.
John L. Poole April 10, 2012 at 03:58 PM
The City should not sell this property, it is a critical monument to the downtown entry via Soscol. They should offer it for lease, even at $1/year, so they can always retain control of it. Pasadena used to do that with geographically important parcels within the city and the payback (e.g. the Norton Simon Museum which is featured on world television every New Years Day) has been incalculable. Right now Soscol is not a very beautiful front door, but someday in the future and with the right planning, it will become so.

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