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New Name, Stores for Napa Town Center

“We want to get great tenants, not necessarily nationwide retailers, but local and regional. Customers want to shop for recognized brands and also for unique items,” Napa Town Center owner Todd Zapolski said.

Barbara Crowley, of Napa, took a break to rest her weary feet, sitting on a bench just a few doors down from Buckhorn Grill at Napa Town Center, the downtown pedestrian mall behind First Street.

“This place is sort of creepy. It’s like a ghost town. I believe there are more vacant stores than occupied, and no bustle of crowds,” Crowley said.

“I’ve lived in Napa for most of my life. I remember when the Town Center was a thriving place with lots of stores and shoppers. I wish that would be the case again.”

New shops coming, owner says

If all goes as planned, Crowley and many other Napa Valley residents will have their wish within the next year, according to property owner Todd Zapolski.

Zapolski and his developers have grand plans for the tired and close to deserted shopping center, which has been renamed The Shops at Napa Center.

The plans to remodel and breath life into the center started in 2011.

“We have been working on this going on two years,” Zapolski said. “Our plans are to open in 2014.”

The number of vacancies in the center doesn’t worry Zapolski. 

“We don’t want to fill them right now. We don’t have any signed leases for new tenants at this time,” he said. “We are in the process of building relations with potential retailers. We don’t just sign one lease at time.”

Zapolski said The Shops at Napa Center will be mostly retail. 

“We have plenty of fine restaurants downtown. We will have the restaurants that are already in the center,” he said.

“But the focus is on street retailers for locals and tourists alike. We want to get great tenants, not necessarily nationwide retailers, but local and regional. Customers want to shop for recognized brands and also for unique items. And that’s what we plan to bring to the center.”

New shopping center will be bigger

The Shops at Napa Center will encompass five parcels including the current Napa Town Center, the Dunne Building where the Ceja Vineyards Tasting Salon is located, the long-vacant Merrill’s Drug Store and Thea Witsil's thriving Wildcat Vintage Clothing, all on First Street.

“The Shops at Napa Center will be larger than the now Napa Town Center,” Zapolski said.

The City of Napa has plans in the works to change First Street from a one-way road to a two-way, and also to open Coombs Street where it dead-ends at First Street.

“That will make the traffic flow much better through downtown. People can take First Street off Highway 29 to downtown. No more zigzagging around the one way streets. It will connect downtown all the way from the west end of First Street to the OxBow Market,” Zapolski said.

As for parking, Zapolski says there's plenty: Between the Clay and Pearl streets garages, there are 720 parking places. “And there are the service lots and off-street parking,” he added.

Napa Valley Jewelers owner Kent Gardella is looking forward to the revamped shopping center.

“I have been here for 20 years and have had four property landlords. The center has not any major improvements for at least nine years,” Gardella said.

“I know he (Zapolski) is looking for tenants, but now with the retail environment, it’s hard right now, that’s every where. There is talk of a seven-story hotel in the old Merrill’s, more activity at the center and more shops at the east end of First Street.

"Exciting things are happening in downtown Napa. I think it’s going to bring more locals and tourists here to enjoy what we have to offer,” Gardella said.

What businesses would you like to see in The Shops at Napa Center when 2014 rolls around? Tell us in the comments.

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Leo Olyn January 23, 2013 at 08:33 PM
An REI Outlet would be nice. Beats driving over to Santa Rosa. Also, another good shoe store would be an asset downtown.
Glenn Ellen Smith January 23, 2013 at 09:21 PM
I also vote for a good shoe store. Naturalizer comes to mind. A store that will carry narrow widths, not just medium or wide and have conservative styles. A thick platform sole with a 5" heel and lots of straps to hold it on my foot is not my idea of a good shoe.
F Otterbeck January 23, 2013 at 09:26 PM
You know what? I would like to see almost any open shops in downtown.
heather Innocenti January 23, 2013 at 09:55 PM
I would like to see a really great sporting goods place like Athleta or Title Nine or even Sports Authority. I would like to get cool yoga stuff and Camelpack items. Big 5 is too crowded and unorganized and Sweeney's is for hunting and fishing. I would like better quality workout and outdoor gear than what is offered at Target, WalHell, Big Five and the like. Not to boast but I think this is a great idea for tourists and residents alike.
F Otterbeck January 23, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Heather, is it exactly the sort of thing that would work. It has appeal to visitors AND residents. The either/or thing is a tired idea and hasn't worked for either side.
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 23, 2013 at 10:30 PM
April, as a representative of the young-parents group: Do your peers want an Apple store in the new shopping center? Or is Apple on its way to joining Talbots and Chico's as a store for old people? http://napavalley.patch.com/articles/has-apple-become-uncool
april kennedy January 23, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Louisa, I think there are actually a lot of good recommendations for stores between Facebook and the Patch and so far Apple seems to be a common one. Having just recently made the switch from HP to Apple I would second an Apple store. I think they are still HOT HOT HOT. Busy and packed every time I walk by one! Plus so many people traveling forget chargers and accessories. I think it would do well with tourists! A few other ideas I love....a Title Nine, Lululemon or Lucy store would be great for a speciality athletic store and a sports authority or REI outlet would also be a great addition. Having a daughter in her teens, I'd also agree a Forever 21 or H&M would be wonderful. Although my first pick would still be Anthropologie!! And for the record...I don't have tons of money, but when I do want to spend money on quality clothes and home decor that is my first go-to store for great up to the minute trends and style. And I always watch for their sale prices.
april kennedy January 24, 2013 at 12:03 AM
I agree. I love these suggestions. Lululemon and/or lucy would be on my list also!
Louisa Hufstader (Editor) January 24, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Thank you, April, and everyone, for the suggestions - I compiled them with the ones on Facebook to come up with this: http://napavalley.patch.com/articles/what-shops-do-locals-want-at-napa-center
Catherine George January 24, 2013 at 02:39 AM
Some really interesting and unique shops and places that come to mind that I saw in Boulder, CO, on the Pearl Street outdoor walking "mall", that made the place so lively and unique, populated and sought after, were; Kite store, Boulder Book Store, American made clothing, unique art galleries, army store, furniture store, map store, Illegal Pete's burritos, huge variety of cuisines from all over the world and all really really good and not too expensive, dog friendly patios, water fountains and sculptures made for kids to climb and play in. I know, its different, the Pearl St. mall goes on and on for blocks and blocks, but we could really do well to take a look at what they've done and incorporate some of that here, if we really want a lively and diverse downtown... just my 2 cents...
Alex Shantz January 24, 2013 at 02:49 AM
I am very pleased to see Zapolski saying that he is not necessarily looking for nationwide retailers but also local and regional retailers. A significant segment of the community has expressed a desire to see local businesses in Downtown Napa. So, its good to see he is claiming to incorporate that feedback into his vision. I still do not support a hotel in Downtown Napa. And, I am not interested in an Apple store in Downtown Napa. Apple treats their Chinese workers terribly and I think we should have higher standards for the type of business practices we condone as a city.
Alex Shantz January 24, 2013 at 02:59 AM
In terms of what I do want to see, I'd like to see more worker collectives, book stores, maybe a record and music store, ect. In general, I would like to see interesting local merchants in Downtown Napa.
Jamie Clemons January 24, 2013 at 05:38 AM
Im 21.. it does seem that downtown is towards younger or older... Never for 18-26..I know if more the stores like Forever 21 showed up or the shop's that 'cater' to the age group.. would be worth it...
Catherine George January 24, 2013 at 05:54 AM
Yes! A food co-op would be wonderful. Also, what the Pearl St. mall had, and what all of these great downtowns seem to have, is beauty. They have interesting, restored or well made architecture which has a very human scale, and lots of great mature trees. Nice store windows with interesting displays, and fun street life; musicians & performers of all types. Granted our streets are not wide enough to accommodate all of this, but if the streets are going to be torn up to put in 2-way again, certainly some of this could be considered along with the re-do of the buildings? Think of the downtowns you've ever visited that you've liked the most. What did they have? Why did you like them so much?
Trevor Hardee January 24, 2013 at 07:59 AM
I think it would be great to see an H&M store where Merrill's was. We also need an apple store.
Art Morris January 24, 2013 at 08:38 AM
I would like to see a good comedy club venue, with admission and drinks priced for the working class rather than the tourist class. I would also like to see a good sporting goods store like Dick's Sporting Goods where we could get everything from firearms to camping to golf equipment
Lorie January 24, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I completely agree about stores that cater the young adult generations: Forever 21, A&F (I don't mind shirtless hunks), Athleta, Hollister, MAC Cosmetics, H&M, REI and of course an APPLE store to be the anchor stores which would bring much needed foot traffic to support the smaller 'mom&pop' ones. A skating rink or an arcade could be fun too. Yes, a comedy club venue, or a very much needed [dance] night club (COPIA would be ideal, I think). Mr. Kent Gardella, YOU need to do something about your window displays, they're probably as old as your store has been there (George Clooney has gray hair now and a few more wrinkles). As funny as your sexist displays may have been, they're OLD and the "joke" ain't funny no more.
Jessica January 24, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Lulu lemon!!!!!!
Penny January 24, 2013 at 06:43 PM
I do not see me going to town for any of the stores named. I would like a Macy's!! good book store too.
Regina W. January 24, 2013 at 06:47 PM
We need large retailers in Napa, not just super expensive local boutiques. We have enough of those in Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, and downtown Napa. If you are not aware, the residents of the Napa Valley have to LEAVE the Napa Valley in order to buy clothing and other goods. We need quality clothing and shoe stores for adults and children so that we can shop locally. Kohl's doesn't cut it. If you want this shopping center to thrive, then bring in stores that the residents want and will shop at.
Kristen Garies Kramer January 24, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Downtown Burlingame would be a good example to follow or Palo Alto even. A good mix of national retailers like William Sonoma and Old Navy with local boutiques mixed in. It doesn't have to be one or the other. I'd love to see some fun regional chains like Charming Charlie and Downeast come to Napa. Also what about a store front activity like indoor mini golf? Fun for kids and adults.
Jamie Clemons January 24, 2013 at 10:11 PM
a comedy club, with a skating rink and arcade would be perfect... well Copia would be the perfect spot..
Jamie Clemons January 24, 2013 at 10:14 PM
The town sometimes does cater to tourist over the locals.. I think if they catered more to the locals, locals can pass the word to others that there's all these shops downtown and then trousit would check it out...
Jamie Clemons January 24, 2013 at 10:15 PM
I ride my bicycle downtown sometimes.... I think having two way streets downtown is going to be the worst idea... but once it happens, it happens.. Just more crashes may happen..
Jamie Clemons January 24, 2013 at 10:19 PM
its kinda to go with the whole amount of blocks that safeway is ... from the town center its 2 blocks, from 3rd st its 4blocks... I ride my bicycle almost weekly from downtown to safeway.. I've counted.. =)
AKAZoom January 25, 2013 at 07:51 PM
an apple store is a necessity, all our kids have macs, turn in their homework virtually study for SAT virtually. it's a must. Anthroplogie is perfect for the younger set too, face it if you shop in Walnut Creek/Corte Madera, Mill Valley now, and go to SF for holiday shopping - you are not going to shop in Napa without the same high end quality stores available, i've never have and never will.
Scott Yeager January 25, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Are there not good clothing and shoe stores at the Napa outlets?
Kristina January 25, 2013 at 08:48 PM
YES YES YES!
Art Morris January 26, 2013 at 05:50 AM
My kids have PC laptops. We're too poor to own Mac's.
Bret S January 26, 2013 at 08:42 PM
I agree w/ the ghost town feel at the moment. If I owned the space, I would have signs up explaining the intent. If you we're coming into Napa Downtown for this first time, this can give you a long lasting negative impression. I think it's pretty simple to advertise (banner) that big things and planning is happening. Will have folks coming back to check up on it. my-2-cents.

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