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Your Ideas for Town Center

We're getting some great comments on our article about vacancies at Napa Town Center. Here's what you said this morning, on Napa Patch, on Facebook and on Twitter:

Who knows what technological gremlin is causing today's hold-up in posting comments on the site? All I know is, I'm not letting anything keep those comments from readers. Here they are, copied from the virtual dungeon where they've been languishing all day.

We asked:

You said:

Great topic. However, I don't believe it really matters too much what any of us would like to see. Until the town center gets new ownership, we're unlikely to see any significant changes from the status quo. The owner apparently refuses to conduct serious negotiations with anyone, spend any money on improvements or marketing, and seems content to hold the city hostage to this blight unless he can get what he wants. Even long time store owner, Ken Garadella of Napa Jewelers, was quoted recently in the Register as saying the landlord is difficult to deal with. Furthermore, this landlord has flaunted the city ordinance to earthquake retrofit other buildings he owns downtown seemingly with impunity. He's currently eighty years old and, to put it bluntly, I believe his legacy of downtown management will be as a selfish slum lord.  4/11/12 7:46 AM

Until there are shops in them, I'd like to see artists use them: studio space, demonstrations, sales.  4/11/12 8:05 AM

Chico's would be ideal. That store would bring foot traffic into the area. I also think a florist with beautiful blooms in buckets outside, a wine store featuring Napa Valley Wines, a shoe store with some unusual styles, a bakery-coffee shop, a Nordstom's Rack....  4/11/12 8:40 AM

A skating rink, these kids hang out there anyway- let's give them something to do that's fun.  4/11/12 8:49 AM

Zachary's Pizza, the best Chicago deep-dish pizza to be found West of the Mississippi! I have to drive to Berkeley to get it, and it's worth the drive, but having one locally would improve the quality of life here dramatically. Reply to my comment as you will, please, but indicate whether you have ever tasted a slice of Zachary's.  4/11/12 9:11 AM

 I believe that the best way to entice shoppers to the Town Center is to cover the pedestrian areas between the buildings with a translucent all-weather covering which would transform the center into an arcade. It can be free-standing which would make the engineering easy and it would make the walkways more enticing, especially during the holiday season. Just my opinion.  4/11/12 11:00 AM

Derry's comment, the most recent at this moment of writing, actually appeared on the site today, so perhaps we've got the problem licked.

Meanwhile, here's what folks have been saying on our Facebook page:

Arts & crafts supply store, bridal shop, fabric store. Terry Rond Kent 

A Michaels store would be fabulous! Joanelle Cook-Bala

Some decent clothing stores like they used to have. Anchor Blue, and Michael's would be nice ... something that isn't tourist related. Sarah Jane Shadis 

I'd like to see more clothing stores. And a really good lingerie store. Kellie Fuller 

We also had one response on Twitter, from Napa Valley Marijuana Growers, saying they'd like to see ... Napa Valley Marijuana Growers.

Please let us know your thoughts!

Judy April 12, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Why on Earth can't we have a drug store? We used to have two, now we have none. I would love to be able to walk into one shop and buy a birthday card, a pair of shoelaces, fill a prescription, and get a quick snack. I know that it's not tourist-friendly, but it sure is local-friendly.
Art Morris April 12, 2012 at 02:03 AM
First, the landlords of the center need to bring the cost of space rent down. It is so expensive that no one can turn a profit in there, especially a start-up. I was paying less than $1 per square foot when I had my golf shop in Fairfield. My competitor, Nevada Bob's who had a space in the Napa Town Center, was paying around $2.65 per square foot. This is one reason I was cutting into his bottom line as his rent was about 3 times what I was paying. He had to keep his prices the same as me, but his overhead in rent was 3 times as much. The Town Center needs to seek out national and regional franchises because their start-up costs are less than someone starting the same type of business from scratch. In this poor economy, a franchise has a better chance of survival over a scratch start-up. For example, starting a coffee franchise can be expensive, but can be a good deal because in the price, you get a proven system with fixtures, product, training, sales program, and a proven track record. A virgin start up can cost much more when you have to develop and purchase all that stuff on your own.
Art Morris April 12, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Personally, I'd like to see any business go in which Napa needs, especially for the workers. I'm tired of so many businesses opening up to cater to tourists and ignor the needs of the residents who support the tourism. We need restaurants which allow people to take their families out for a meal without having your wallet raped. We need clothing stores and entertainment which also cater to those who work here and keep Napa on the map. Of course that won't happen because the rent prices, especially downtown, are ridiculously expensive, preventing a low-cost alternative for the residents.
Kerry April 12, 2012 at 04:49 AM
H&M would be perfect...TJMAXX and Chico's and Sole Desire,,,no more fast food.
tom merle April 12, 2012 at 07:06 PM
High vacancy rates exist all over the country. Supply far outweighs demand. Few retailers want to sign 5 and 10 year leases with the degree of uncertainly that exists in the marketplace. So I suggest doing what is happening in greater frequency around the country--Pop Ups. Allowing tenants to go in for the short term at reduced rents. Some are for profit, some are non profit. They agree to terms and conditions that allow landlords to place longer term tenants in as the market grows stronger and more predictable. This can also include restaurants, even when all the facilities are not in--like caterers. Users can also go in once a week or one week a month, like farmers/flea markets, but more upscale. Such uses can be used as fundraisers. So the spaces become special event venues. Here's a more permanent one in NYC-- http://www.openhousegallery.org/ Who wants to do a Napa version with me. Have a look at my Facebook page scrolling down to see some examples in addition to our own events-- http://www.facebook.com/Pairings
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) April 12, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I would love a pop-up record store in time for Record Store Day, April 21. Well, maybe next year?
Pat Giusto April 12, 2012 at 08:12 PM
An "all around" craft store like Michael's would be great.
Glenn Ellen Smith April 12, 2012 at 11:06 PM
I agree totally with a drug store, a nice lingerie store (not Frederick's), a nice shoe store like the Naturalizer store we used to have, a socks store. Michael's would be great but I have concerns for my favorite local yarn store "Yarns on First Street", and maybe a sporting goods store and an electronics store.
Karen Garcia April 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Another thing I think is sorely needed, and probably would be an instant success: a New York City-style newsstand. Newspapers from all over the country/world, magazines, post cards, books, maps, candy, fresh flowers, a few toiletries, snacks. People from Avia would love a place like that, I think.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) May 02, 2012 at 11:45 PM
The Napa Valley Register is reporting that Town Center has a new landlord: http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/zapolski-completes-deal-to-buy-napa-s-town-center/article_4e0667f6-94a8-11e1-b078-0019bb2963f4.html

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