Napa Pipe: From brownfield to new neighborhood

Since 2007, Greenbelt Alliance has monitored the Napa Pipe development project proposed for a 154-acre brownfield site of a former steel factory. Located in unincorporated Napa County, three miles south of the City of Napa and bordered entirely on the west by the Napa River, Napa Pipe is the largest proposed development in the history of Napa County. As such, the proposal has the potential to leave an indelible imprint on the County for years to come.

Proposed by Napa Redevelopment Partners, LLC, the project will create 2,580 homes, 516 of which will be rented at below-market rates to those earning 80% or less of area median income. The proposal includes 40,000 square feet of restaurants and neighborhood-serving retail, which will give residents the opportunity to live a walkable lifestyle. The plan also features more than 30 acres of parks, open space, and proposed improvements along the Napa River, including a nearly one-mile stretch of the Bay Trail and the Napa River trail that will be newly opened to the public.

After completing an exhaustive analysis, Greenbelt Alliance concluded that compact, mixed-use development, including 2,580 homes, is the best way to fulfill Napa County’s housing needs, shorten local commute times, and reuse this large brownfield site. Although we hope that most development will take place within cities and towns, the Napa Pipe development proposal is consistent with our Grow Smart Bay Area findings and recommendations, in part because it is an existing urban site partially surrounded by the incorporated City of Napa.

The Napa Pipe proposal aligns not only with our Grow Smart Bay Area vision but also with the County’s recent General Plan update that re-designated the site as a Study Area, permitting land uses like the ones that are now proposed. The Napa Pipe proposal also enjoys a positive relationship with Measure P’s agricultural and open space protections, which enable Napa County to be flexible in its reuse of industrial sites like Napa Pipe.

The area surrounding the site has the highest concentration of jobs in Napa County: 34,000 jobs are located within just four miles. Approximately one-third of the County’s workforce currently commutes in from areas such as Fairfield, where affordable housing options are more readily available than in Napa, contributing to traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Napa Pipe will help provide homes that people can afford near where they work. A broad range of other amenities, including a daycare facility, marina, athletic field, outdoor theatre, transit center, boat house, and public safety building proposed for the site will enable residents to meet their daily needs on foot rather than by car.

Although we do have some concerns on issues of governance, water, transportation and traffic, and on-site amenities, which we have detailed in a comment letter submitted to Napa County (PDF) on March 28, Greenbelt Alliance supports the proposed vision for the Napa Pipe development. We are confident that with due diligence, these concerns can be sufficiently addressed through the rest of the planning process so that this project will become an asset to the area.

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