Will Copia reopen?

  • The Copia Center which houses the new restaurant The Bistro @ Copia in Napa during its first day of operation on Thursday May 22, 2008. The were open but still in the process of setting up as they will soon add art and a flat screen to the wall behind the counter. Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

The fate of Copia, the $78 million wine, food and art center founded by legendary vintner Robert Mondavi, remains in limbo as competing groups float proposals to reopen the bankrupt complex in downtown Napa.

Copia is working on a liquidation plan that preserves the 12-acre complex for some sort of public use, said John MacConaghy, the organization?s bankruptcy attorney.

?We want the building to be used for the benefit of the community,? MacConaghy said Friday following the latest hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Rosa.

But it?s unclear whether any of the proposals to reopen the center will satisfy creditors or bankruptcy court Judge Alan Jaroslovsky, who is overseeing the case.

On Friday, a group of Napa business leaders, the Coalition to Preserve Copia, submitted a plan to the court that calls for reopening the center.

The nonprofit group would sell off Copia?s undeveloped land to pay creditors, and collect fees from hotels and other downtown businesses to rent the 80,000-square-foot Copia building.

The group would then seek $30 million in financing to acquire the property. The Coalition to Preserve Copia suggested using the facility as a visitor information center, wine and food conference center, restaurant and wine tasting center.

Copia is ?very interested? in the group?s plan, MacConaghy told the court Friday.

The Culinary Institute of America, which has a cooking school, restaurant and other programs in St. Helena, is also interested in using the downtown Napa center if it reopens, said Louis Cisz, an attorney for ACA Financial Corp. and Bank of New York, Copia?s largest creditors.

Another group of creditors, Copia Claims LLC, has its own plan for reopening the center, with help from Saratoga?s Mountain Winery, a popular South Bay concert venue.

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