The groups feuding over Copia, the bankrupt wine center in downtown Napa, said Friday they?ve settled their differences, paving the way for the $78 million facility to reopen in the future.
?It?s not going to happen in a month, two months or six months,? Copia attorney John MacConaghy told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Alan Jaroslovsky in Santa Rosa on Friday.
Now, a Napa community group that wants to revive Copia must raise the funds to acquire it, MacConaghy said.
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 more than $5 million a year since opening in 2001, according to bankruptcy filings.
Under the agreement announced Friday, the 12-acre complex on the Napa River will become property of Bank of New York Mellon, Copia?s largest creditor. The bank will hold the property in trust for Copia bondholders.
Copia?s bond insurer, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., can then negotiate with groups interested in purchasing the property, MacConaghy said.
As part of the agreement, Copia has dropped plans to sue the bank and bond insurer for allegedly mishandling a $71 million refinancing of the center in 2007.
However, a creditor group still is pursuing the fraud case in federal court.
Louis Cisz, attorney for Bank of New York and ACA, confirmed the settlement with Copia on Friday. The plan announced Friday still must be approved by creditors and the bankruptcy court.
A Napa group, the Coalition to Preserve Copia, is proposing to acquire the property and use it for a conference center, visitor center, restaurant and wine education facility.
Napa hotel guests would pay a special tax to support the center.
The Culinary Institute of America, which has a cooking school, restaurant and other food programs in St. Helena, is interested in becoming part of the project.
As part of Friday?s settlement, ACA will pay about $622,000 to cover Copia?s debts, including unpaid vacation for 60 employees.
Jaroslovsky continued the case until June 26 to consider the proposal that will be submitted to creditors.
?I hope everybody can work together to make the facility useful to the community,? Jaroslovsky said Friday.
Copia hosted more than a million visitors in eight years of operation. The 80,000-square-foot museum featured art galleries, gardens, food and wine classes and Julia?s Kitchen, a restaurant named for famed chef Julia Child.
Mondavi, who died last year at age 94, donated $25 million to launch the center and others contributed about $20 million.
But Copia was hampered by a hard-to-find location, lack of retail activity and a poorly-defined mission, the organization said in bankruptcy papers.
The First Street property is worth $25 million to $30 million, according to court documents.
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