Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American Canyon's downtown dream assisted by incorporation of 300 acres

American Canyon's downtown dream assisted by incorporation of 300 acres

By Rachel Raskin-Zrihen / Times-Herald

Posted: 12/10/2010 05:08:58 AM PST:

The old Basalt mine property in American Canyon is set to be developed as the city's new downtown after Napa County's Local Agency Formation Commission OK'd its annexation. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

AMERICAN CANYON -- After more than a decade of efforts, this city's vision for a downtown came a step closer to reality this week as the project's proposed site annexation was approved.

The Local Agency Formation Commission, which grants annexation rights, on Monday OK'd American Canyon's request to incorporate some 300 acres of unincorporated Napa County. On it will be built the city's long-awaited Town Center, Mayor Leon Garcia said.

"We've been working on this for a very long time and this is a great accomplishment for American Canyon," Garcia said. "Something like downtown Healdsburg is what's been envisioned -- a mixed use complex with retail, residential, a park... a downtown sense of place for American Canyon."

Part of the residential component will satisfy Napa County's affordable housing obligation, Garcia said.

"This takes the pressure off up-county farmland and vineyards for development," Community Development Director Brent Cooper said. "And there are many benefits to the city."

One such benefit will be the extension of certain streets and bike trails, he said.

Located behind the Napa Junction Apartments on the city's east side, the old basalt cement plant ruins are where developer McGrath Properties is now gearing up to create a downtown for the city, Garcia said.

During Tuesday's City Council meeting where the annexation approval was announced, McGrath spokeswoman Deborah Castles thanked the council and city staff for its hard work thus far.

"We're looking forward to having something wonderful happen on that property," she said.

Though a long process still looms, discussions between city staff and McGrath officials should start soon. In those, details will begin to be ironed out, Garcia and Cooper said.

"The application will likely come to us later on this spring and then there will be a public process to review the plan," Cooper said. "We'll make sure it's consistent with our General Plan and meets the community's goals."

A completion date is still a long way off, both men said.

"I have no idea when it will be complete," Garcia said. "It all depends on what the economy does."

Contact staff writer Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824 or rzrihen