Sunday, October 23, 2016

Napa Confidential: St. Helena decifered

                                                       The Private I           


                         More from the citizen investigator:
   have reviewed the deeds for the John & Virginia Daly property, and has seen the most recent proposals for use of the City's Adams Street property made available (in part) October 22.
    The last of the Daly property was not a gift to the City. It was sold in 2000 by John's widow, Honey Bear (Virginia Warren) Daly to the City of St. Helena in 2000 for $2,000,000.  Therefore, the City can dispose of it.  It was not a restricted gift. It totals 5.6 acres, and half of this is within the City's current rural limit line (zoned commercial), while the other half remains outside the current limit and is used for agricultural purposes. The entire 5.6 acres is planted to very old, yet bearing grape vines.
    The Village at St. Helena proposed by HMS Development Partners (connected to Councilman Gregg Pitts) seeks to develop all 5.6 acres, including 12 luxury townhouses, a hotel (luxury with 75 suites) and mixed use retail with parking areas in the portion that is not currently zoned commercial, that pushes the urban line out to commercial and residential uses.  The front portion of the property currently zoned commercial would provide parking, room for library expansion, a community center with leased space above a city hall and and police department, and a building for other civic uses.  The developer would buy all of the property at figures bantied for $13.4 million to solve the city's desperate need for cash (which is a fib) while the City would have up front space.  This is Benito Mussolini's favorite scheme in Italy ... if they intend to control the City portion of the property, was changed from the original proposal. The City would control the land that is currently commercial.
   HRV (Pritzker, Koch, Hall Financial related) offers $10,000,000 for the Main Street property, but with plans to develop the front end of the Adams Street property, and the Main Street property purchase would be $5,000,000. Plans for Main Street were shown, where hotel plans for a number of three story hotel clusters and a restaurant at the corner of Main Street and Pine met with community criticism about interference with Fire responses.  Visually, it creates a 30 foot wall, sealing off views from the City's Lyman Park on Main Street, providing views of hotel balconies and rooms looming above the park (where trees would be removed).
    As one resident pointed out, each 85 room hotel would create nearly 20,000 auto trips per year.  He said the ratio of employees to rooms for luxury hotels is 2.5 ... and pointed out an average of 14 delivery trucks would service the site each day.  This means 85 guest autos, 213 employee autos (per shift), and 14 more delivery trucks daily, for a congestion factor of of more than 312 autos/trucks daily "for a single shift," all reliant on Main Street and Adams Street intersection.
    There were no handouts available for Bald Mountain's proposal but Kelly Foster dropped a hint again -- it would be a Four Seasons project, and likened what they have done to Calistoga as what they intend to do to help City of St. Helena which he termed as "broke like Calistoga." An audience response to this was "You haven't done anything for Calistoga, you didn't buy City land, you haven't even built your hotel. Calistoga already has $9 million in income and $4.5 million in their budgeted expenses." Another from the audience asked where they would be getting their employees, and the response of HRV's Richard Harmon was "from Santa Rosa, from Napa, from Fairfield and we could shuttle them in", which netted another comment "City of Calistoga shut down their shuttle ... (because employees from Santa Rosa - Rohnert Park didn't use it following a six month trial)."
    All of the projects "mess with" the City's urban limit.
    There were comments back and forth about whether the City was broke or not broke, with the Bicycle Trail spokesperson saying the City is bankrupt! "The boys" have spoken.
    Those who remember the attention paid to detail for a Firehouse that was safe and satisfied Fire as being the best plan will recall it was very important to fire personnel to have access to the station in all four directions, with routes on either side providing parking areas for volunteers, and at both ends, servicing emergency vehicles. The proposal by HCV removes access to one side of the building, and abuts the hotel structure to the fire station.  One resident commented "you obviously haven't checked with any residents about this problem, and have come up with plans without regard to what the residents want."  It was "backward thinking," according to some.
                            (For background see previous posts)
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  1. Sounds like a really costly mess!

  2. Thanks for doing all this! One of the things mentioned at the Firehouse meeting was the historic and genetic significance of the vineyard behind the library. Surely a better use for that land would be to use it as a living resource (i.e. "library") for research and genetic diversity than as a playpen for the ultra-rich.