The new owner of Copia is seeking bids for the shuttered wine center in downtown Napa, which declared bankruptcy last December after running out of cash.
Bidders have until Nov. 12 to submit proposals for the 17-acre property, according to a real estate company handling the sale.
?Initial interest in the property has already been significant,? said Jerry Pietroforte of Alvarez & Marsal Real Estate Advisory Services.
The $78 million complex offers ?an exciting opportunity for a new owner to develop a vibrant and valuable commercial and tourism destination,? he said.
Under a plan approved by Copia?s creditors, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. has taken control of the property and put it on the market. ACA insured the bonds issued to pay for Copia, also known as the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.
Proceeds from the sale will go to repay the bondholders. The property is worth $25 to $35 million in the current market, according to estimates in bankruptcy court filings.
Various groups have proposed using the property for a hotel, shops, visitor center, conference facility or a wine and food education center.
The site, located on a bend of the Napa River, is zoned for mixed-use commercial tourism, including a hotel and other visitor facilities.
The loss of Copia ?is really hurting downtown Napa,? said John Salmon, a Napa attorney and spokesman for the Coalition to Preserve Copia. The center attracted visitors who patronized Napa?s hotels, restaurants and shops, he said.
The nonprofit coalition plans to submit a bid for the property, he said. The Culinary Institute of America, which has a cooking school in St. Helena, is interested in leasing part of the site, Salmon said.
On Tuesday, attorneys for ACA and Copia told a bankruptcy court judge they?ve reached agreement on a liquidation plan but were still working out some minor details.
Judge Alan Jaroslovsky said he intends to approve the plan when it?s formally submitted.
Copia opened in 2001 with a $25 million gift from the late Napa vintner Robert Mondavi. The nonprofit center featured wine and food classes, art exhibits, performance space, gardens and Julia?s Kitchen, a restaurant named for famed chef Julia Child.
It attracted more than a million visitors a year but struggled financially, losing at least $5 million annually.
Copia includes a 78,000-square-foot museum building with restaurant, offices, exhibition space, a 270-seat theater, library, classrooms, demonstration kitchen, cafe and gift shop.
The 17 acres also includes land leased to Oxbow Market, a collection of food shops and restaurants that opened in 2008.