Copia To Sell Off Main Building
I rather expected this news to come after hearing this summer that the Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in California's Napa Valley was in financial trouble. It seems that the Copia will be selling off its main campus in Napa Valley and then leasing back part of the space. The good news is that the center isn't going completely belly up. It plans to expand its education programs and open satellite campuses with wine bars and stores. They'll need the help, the organization has a debt of $78 million, and prospective buyers are already dealing with a 50 percent write-down in value as reported in Wines & Vines.
The city of Napa might consider using the site as a civic center. Certainly the Copia building always did seem a bit large for its audience and was only stuffed with visitors during certain key festivals and events. Robert and Margrit Mondavi planned the center as a hub for Napa's expansive wine tourism industry but it never quite took off, its education-based lure never as strong as that of a hedonistic jaunt along from winery to winery in Napa Valleys verdant countryside. The most popular parts of Copia, the Julia's Kitchen restaurant and Cornucopia gift store will stay in Napa, either in the building or elsewhere and there are also potential plans for a Copia Napa wine bar.
Copia's feature may lie in San Francisco where a large wine bar and teaching kitchen could attract many more potential visitors. They've also expanded the Copia website to make it more interesting to all those interested in wine, not just potential visitors to the Copia center.
Hopefully the business or organization that ends up purchasing the space will have a tourism or wine focus. Several business including the Oxbow Public Market, the new Westin Hotel and a proposed Ritz Carlton chose their sites based on proximity to Copia and the plan to create a epicurean tourism destination. Copia is hoping to sell off the property by the end of the year.
UPDATE: Copia has temporarily closed but plans to open up again on December 1.