Franklin Station Post Office Update

NCL’s Board of Directors supports the rehabilitation and repurposing of the Napa Franklin Station Post Office. We know that such a project will require an addition to the original building footprint to be financially viable, and that not every inch of the historic building can be preserved. However, it is our duty to enforce the terms of the preservation covenant and the City should refrain from going forward with the approval process until the two parties who signed the easement (NCL and the property owner) are in agreement.

October, 2019

Like many of our friends and neighbors, members of NCL’s board of directors and PAC committee have been waiting anxiously to see specific plans for the rehabilitation of our beloved post office. Designed by William Corlett, one of Napa’s premiere architects, the Art Deco gem is one of Napa County’s most architecturally distinguished buildings. Prominently located in the heart of historic Downtown, it features four highly ornamented facades, three of which are on major thoroughfares, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 when it was barely 50 years old. After it was damaged in the earthquake, NCL was a leader in advocating for its rehabilitation. We were joined by many Napa County residents, our local elected leaders, and even Congressman Mike Thompson. The US Postal Service agreed to sell the building to a private party for rehabilitation. One of the terms of the sale was the creation of a conservation easement – a deed restriction signed by NCL and the property owner. This easement requires that:

  • the building be restored according to the Secretary of Interior’s Standards – a set of guidelines to ensure that a new addition is compatible with and subordinate to a historic building;
  • Napa County Landmarks approve of any proposed project as conforming to the Secretary of Interiors Standards.

2014 Earthquake Damage. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.NCL’s Board of Directors supports the rehabilitation and repurposing of the Napa Franklin Station Post Office. We know that such a project will require an addition to the original building footprint to be financially viable, and that not every inch of the historic building can be preserved. However, it is our duty to enforce the terms of the preservation covenant and the City should refrain from going forward with the approval process until the two parties who signed the easement (NCL and the property owner) are in agreement.

As presented to date in the Napa Register, NCL does not believe the developer’s plans comply with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards as the proposed project envelops 4/5 of the historic building, leaving little of the historic building visible except the Second Street façade. We are currently making a good faith effort to work with the property owner’s team as well as the City of Napa to enforce compliance with this easement as required by the contract. To be clear, we are not trying to stop the project from happening, we are trying to make sure the project we get is a good one that preserves our heritage while adding economic value Downtown.

Napa residents who share our vision for preserving our most distinguished landmarks while developing for the future can contact city officials, write to the Napa Register, donate to NCL, attend public hearings and speak out on social media in favor of preserving our precious Post Office.

Marie Dolcini, Preservation Committee Member.

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