Creditors have approved a liquidation plan for Copia, the bankrupt Napa wine center that shut down last November.
?This plan has been accepted by an overwhelming majority,? Copia attorney John MacConaghy said Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Rosa.
But Judge Alan Jaroslovsky said he won?t rule on the plan until October. The delay will give him time to review objections filed by several creditor groups and allow proponents of the plan to respond.
Copia, also called the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, ran out of cash last year. It opened in 2001 with a $25 million gift from the late Napa vintner Robert Mondavi.
Named for the Roman goddess of abundance, Copia featured wine and food classes, art exhibits, performance space, gardens and Julia?s Kitchen, an upscale restaurant named for legendary chef Julia Child.
But the 12-acre complex on the Napa River in downtown Napa struggled financially, despite attracting more than 1 million visitors. It lost at least $5 million a year.
The liquidation plan would pay unsecured creditors about 13 cents on the dollar. Secured creditors, including Copia?s bondholders, would share the proceeds when the property is sold.
A Napa group, the Coalition to Preserve Copia, is interested in acquiring the property and reopening it as a wine-oriented conference and visitor center, said John Salmon, a spokesman for the group.
The coalition is talking with the city of Napa and downtown hotel owners about establishing a tax assessment to finance the purchase, he said. Under the plan, guests at Napa hotels would pay an extra room tax to help fund the project.
The coalition also is talking with the Culinary Institute of America, which operates a cooking school in St. Helena, about leasing part of the site, he said.
But the Napa group will face competition from others interested in the property, Salmon said. Under terms of the liquidation, Copia?s bond insurer, ACA Financial Guarantee Corp., will consider additional bids.
The nonprofit wine center declared bankruptcy in December. Its largest creditors are those who purchased $78 million in bonds to finance the project.
Copia also owes several million dollars to vendors, employees and guests who left deposits for classes and events that were later cancelled.
Copia?s assets, including wine, artwork and real estate, are worth $25 to $35 million, according to bankruptcy documents. The property includes about 80,000 square feet of buildings.
On Friday, several creditors objected to the liquidation plan. A group suing Copia?s lenders for allegedly mishandling the bond deal said the plan should be thrown out because it protects the lenders from liability.
There also were irregularities with the creditor vote, said Merle Meyers, an attorney for the group. ?We don?t believe they?ve been adequately addressed,? he said.
Jaroslovsky said he?ll consider further arguments and set a hearing for Oct. 27.
?What I?d like to see is some kind of use for the facility,? he said. ?It?s just sitting there. It?s really a shame.?
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