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Copia gets go ahead on bankruptcy plan

Copia, the shuttered wine center in downtown Napa, can move forward with its plan to get out of bankruptcy, despite protests from a small group of creditors, a judge ruled Friday.

Under the plan, the $78 million complex on the Napa River would would become property of Bank of New York Mellon, Copia?s largest creditor.

The bank could then sell it to a Napa community group that wants to reopen Copia as a conference and visitor center.

Copia, also known as the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, closed in November after running out of cash. The nonprofit founded by the late Napa vintner Robert Mondavi lost at least $5 million a year since it opened in 2001.

On Friday, a small group of creditors, Copia Claims LLC, objected to the proposed settlement. The group has filed a lawsuit accusing the bank and Copia?s bond insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., of mishandling a $71 million refinancing of the center in 2007.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Jaroslovsky said Friday he won?t stall the process while the group pursues its claim.

Copia Claims LLC has only a tiny financial interest in Copia, he said. ?Copia Claims is a little gnat on this case,? Jaroslovsky said. ?There?s a limit to how much attention I want to give to a gnat.?

The court is expected to rule in August on a plan to repay creditors. It would have to be approved by creditors and the court before it goes into effect.


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