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.

Practical April 04, 2012 at 04:06 PM
The land trust is a terrible use for that building. They want to have offices in the building with all of the office space in Napa available. I think the management is wanting to have a penthouse downtown they don't need. They have no reason whatsoever to take that building out of use for their selfish reason. Put something in that location which will add to the Napa experience. Not some ego maniacs that need to be seen in one of the best locations in Napa. Who do they think they are. I think they are out of line asking the city for that location.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Hi, just a reminder that we ask commenters not to conceal their identities with obviously false screen names. This is a community forum conducted in a spirit of honesty and transparency. Anyone who objects to a comment can flag it as inappropriate. Three flags remove a comment from the site. False screen names are considered inappropriate. Thanks.
Doug Summers April 04, 2012 at 04:25 PM
If you notice, the article only say, "motorcycle designer with a TV show", but gives no detail of who the celebrity (Paul Teutul) is or that it"s a popular show. This is a boost that the city actually needs.
Tom Ontis April 04, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Check the cornerstone of the other buidling up by Lincoln school, or to the 'johnny come latelies, New Technology High School. (wink, wink) The biggest problems of the buidling as I see it are access and critters. It being right on the river, critters could be a real problem. (My Mom and I had a car accident at that corner in 1990. It was the other guy's fault.)
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 04:29 PM
More detailed information about the buyers is available by clicking the highlighted phrase "possible buyers who have shown interest" in the article.
Mike Treleven April 04, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I would like to see the historic building used by several groups such as art gallery/lecture center and cultural/history of the valley. And it would be nice if these options could be free to locals.
Catherine George April 04, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Seems like parking is the major issue no matter what the building ends up being used for. Hopefully something can be done about that - perhaps parking nearby with a safe walkway to the building? Would love to see it turned into a gallery / coffeehouse / meetup place / community center / dance hall / performance space - something for the youth - and all ages - make it really cool so people really want to hang out there.
Aileen Carroll April 04, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I think this would be a cool location for the future LGBT community center.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Any thoughts on funding for these ideas?
Catherine George April 04, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Perhaps a mish-mosh of businesses could pool their resources together, and this would be a satellite business for them, and a collaboration - Napa Roasting, Copperfields, The Uptown, The Arts Council, more... ?
tamie April 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
The gentleman that would like to make it a motorcycle shop. I truly believe that Napa can support a shop like that. As far as LGBT, I hardly doubt the good ol' boys will allow for it. Every time Napa has tried something "different" ( I am thinking about the different night clubs that have come and gone and the Rainbow Room @ The Depot) it doesn't last due to the mentality of the (not all) older generation.
Eric Thronson April 04, 2012 at 08:50 PM
It's like the city is trying to force it into being some for a mere 400K. It's not a good fit for the city any more. But it may have just enough parking for a hotel.
Matthew Young April 04, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Give it the wrecking ball treatment. it's old and it's an eyesore.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 04, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Unlikely the city will go for that after all the dough it spent on the retrofit, though.
Marcia Battat April 05, 2012 at 05:19 PM
How about having a world class Steinway piano store on the main floor and on the second floor a world class conservatory of music serving the needs of our community and beyond with professional quality musical training (provided by Napa Valley Music Associates) to include teaching studios for piano, voice, strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion and a space to offer Dalcroze Eurthythmics classes and performing area for performances, master classes, symposiums, workshops, etc. A Community Music and Arts Conservatory is much needed for children and adults which is the goal and direction for Napa Valley Music Associates. A music store with first class pianos to buy and rent would add much to this area of need in Napa! This is a missing link which would educate people in need of this part of the arts community! Marcia Battat Napa Valley Music Associates
Louisa Hufstader April 05, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Great suggestions. I've also heard that a co-op winery is interested in the space; not sure why there haven't been any comments about that, perhaps it's an iffy bid. Anyway, that is why we have the "Other" option in the poll: for anything and everything.
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 (Editor) 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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