A Growing Crozet is a Happy Crozet

The Benefits of Small Town Growth

Since the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Crozet has come to be a choice location for families in Albemarle County.  With the area wineries, festivals, amazing restaurants, boutiques and family day outings around local farms and playgrounds, it is no surprise that the area has attracted more residential growth than any other area of the County.  As the community continues to grow, many feel anxiety over the impacts of growth and fear losing the small town charm. While unmanaged growth can be detrimental, managed growth can provide meaningful benefits for the whole community:

Economic Benefits: As Crozet grows and adds more places in which a business can operate, there will naturally be an increase in tax revenue for the County.  These dollars can then be allocated  for schools, services, maintenance and capital  improvements.  Here’s an interesting fact about Crozet:  Growth has been largely upper income families.  Median household income in Crozet went from being among the lowest in the County to the highest (over $80K per year).  This creates economic opportunity because people have disposable income to spend.  From a tax perspective, higher incomes mean higher value homes, more tax revenue to fund additional services and school growth.

More specialty restaurants, shops and service providers are in demand for the area. Peidmont Place, opening in late 2016 has been fully leased since opening and businesses are thriving.   In a fairly recent DCI Facebook post, we asked our page followers about this very topic.  From that post, it was insightful to learn that there were several people that suggested Crozet needed a new bakery (with donuts), a dog grooming facility, a work space, and even drive thru coffee! Having more business, means more jobs and more demand for products and services. 

Social benefits:  Growth can help improve the educational opportunities for all residents.  Growth can bring good restaurants, breweries, wineries, and cultural events.

Cultural Benefits: Crozet has attracted talented people with big ideas and refined cultural tastes.  They create vitality and enrich lives through creative  expression.  Crozet is now home to more than 130 artisans! It has its own orchestra,  a ballet school, a chorus and a theatre group. 

Recreational Benefits:  Crozet has always been attractive for outdoor recreation and growth has fueled the creation of new recreational venues and opportunities.  The expansion of Claudius Crozet Park, a new park in Old trail, the Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preservation park in Whitehall, preservation of the Crozet Tunnel as a tourist attraction, Polo at King Family Vineyard, Wild Rock Childrens’ nature play park are expanding an already rich outdoor culture in Crozet.

Growth is now helping support new development in downtown, an area that’s been largely left behind during Crozet’s growth boom. Milestone Partners development plans for downtown will bring new businesses, new jobs, new retail, hotel and restaurant opportunities.  Perrone Robotics has already moved into downtown and brought 17 new jobs that could grow to more than 100 in the next few years.  Plans for a civic plaza will solidify downtown as the the heart and soul of Crozet.  The plaza will be a pedestrian focused place for socializing, entertainment, dining, and relaxing.  Residents can create new relationships and perhaps start new family traditions.  Many towns in Virginia are struggling to survive and would do anything to attract the kind of growth that Crozet is experiencing.  The reality is that Crozet has much to be thankful for and thoughtful growth is one of them.

DCI Facebook Post Nov. 2, 2016

DCI Facebook Post Nov. 2, 2016

DCIFBPostReply

Design Concepts for Crozet Community Plaza

Did you miss the chance to review the Crozet plaza design concepts at the event? No worries. We've included them here! Which one is your favorite? What aspects of each do you like/dislike? We welcome any and all feedback. You can leave a comment or email us at info@downtowncrozetinitiative.com. 

DESIGN CONCEPT A:

Crozet Plaza Design A

Crozet Plaza Design A

DESIGN CONCEPT B:

Crozet Plaza Design B

Crozet Plaza Design B

DESIGN CONCEPT C:

DCI Design & Dine Event: Mark Your Calendars

Join us for the Design & Dine Event!

Thursday, Dec. 8
4:30 pm - 7:30 pm Open House
Piedmont Place

Come give input on the future Crozet community plaza! Join us to view and share your thoughts on three (3) conceptual plaza designs. Water features? Outdoor seating? Covered event spaces? We'd like to hear from you.

While you're there...

Catch a sneak peek of Piedmont Place before its official grand opening.
Enjoy free bites and brews from Smoked BBQ, Morsel Compass and Starr Hill Brewery.
Visit the Carelsen family at their new Crozet Bicycle Shop.

To RSVP for the event, visit the event Facebook page or email us at info@downtowncrozetinitiative.com

 

 

Crozet Bicycles Coming Soon

Adventurers and cycling enthusiasts, Cor Carelsen and his wife Louise, are taking their passion and turning it into a reality that will soon be enjoyed by many in this area. Crozet Bicycles will be opening on the former Barnes Lumber property later this Fall, aiming for a date in November. This is the first business to open its doors on the property since Milestone Partners/Crozet New Town Associates purchased it in 2014. The shop will be located in the house/small building across the parking lot and to the left of Parkway Pharmacy.

Crozet Bicycles will carry a variety of bikes ranging from high-end mountain bikes to kids bicycles, although not a large inventory due to the size of the space. One thing we’re sure those in the market for a new bike will love: you’ll be able to “test drive” the bikes before you buy them. It also will sell cycling apparel and gear for the more sophisticated riders, as well as bike parts. The main focus of the business will be dedicated to maintenance and repairs, as this is where Cor’s true passion lies. The plan is to be in the current location for two years, and then see where the business grows from there.

Cor cycles every day, riding a few times a week with the Crozet Cycling Club. Moving to this area from South Africa and Botswana, Cor and Louise chose Crozet because of its proximity to the mountains and nearby rural areas. Crozet Bicycles is not their first venture together. The couple owned Limpopo Horse Safaris, horseback riding safaris through the Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block of south eastern Botswana. And, they currently own and operate Rides Around the Globe, offering mountain biking and horseback riding vacation packages to destinations around the world.

If nothing else, this family has many life and travel experiences to share. We look forward to getting to know them better and hearing some fascinating stories during our trips to Crozet Bicycles.

DCI July Meeting Re-cap

Photo courtesy of Charlottesville Tomorrow

Photo courtesy of Charlottesville Tomorrow

The DCI Planning Committee and members of the community met on Wednesday, July 13, to discuss the latest developments relating to the Barnes Lumber site and downtown Crozet. Here is a quick re-cap of the discussions that took place:

  • Phase 1 Re-zoning – The County has delayed the re-zoning of Phase 1 of the Barnes Lumber development to further assess the off-site infrastructure needs and County policy shifts that could have a positive impact on the Barnes re-zoning. Among the infrastructure needs being discussed are sewer capacity, intersection upgrades and road improvements to a portion of High Street. The developer, Milestone Partners/Crozet New Town Associates, resubmitted the Phase 1 re-zoning package on July 18. The earliest it will be reviewed by the Planning Commission is the end of September and the Board of Supervisors in November (not September, as originally planned).
  • Landscape Architecture Firm for the Plaza – Members of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC), Crozet Community Association (CCA), Downtown Crozet Initiative (DCI) and Crozet Board of Trade interviewed five firms in June. Following the interviews, it was a unanimous vote to hire Mahan Rykiel Associates from Baltimore, MD. While many of the interviewers went into the interviews expecting to hire a local firm, Mahan Rykiel’s talent, experience, enthusiasm, and recommendations to build a plaza that would highlight the unique attributes of Crozet ultimately swayed the panel. Mahan Rykiel will be working closely with local architects and engineers on the project.
    • The first phase of conceptual designs is expected later this Fall.
  • A Brand for Crozet – Part of Mahan Rykiel’s recommendation for building a successful plaza downtown is for the plaza design to reflect Crozet’s identity, history and future aspirations. A large part of the DCI discussion earlier this month focused on the topic of branding Crozet. What is Crozet’s brand? What are its unique selling points? If Crozet wants to attract the right kinds of businesses and increase tourism in the area, attendees of the DCI meeting agreed that the town needs a clearer brand and messaging.

Please tell us what you think. How would you describe Crozet in 5 words or less?

Hiring a Landscape Architecture Firm for the Downtown Crozet Plaza

One of the focal points of the development of downtown Crozet will be the outdoor plaza area. In April, we heard from some of you on the DCI Facebook page about what you'd like to see in this space. Shaded areas, a splash park, an outdoor play area, public benches, and a mixture of green space and hardscape were some ideas we received. 

The developer, Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners/Crozet New Town Associates, is dedicating a minimum of 28,000 sq-ft for this space. The space will be developed through a combination of grants, private donations, and money from the county. In a recent article in Charlottesville Tomorrow, Frank stated that he doesn't want to start buildings without a clear plan for the plaza because the plaza is such an important catalyst to attracting businesses, restaurants and retailers to downtown. 

Last month, Frank sent a Request for Proposal (RFP) to local and regional landscape architecture firms asking for proposals for the design of this civic space/plaza. Five firms responded. Frank and five members of the DCI, CCA, CCAC and Crozet Board of Trade plan to interview these firms next week. 

Members of the community are invited to attend and observe the interviews; however, questions and comments during the actual interviews will be left to the six-person panel. If you plan to attend, we ask that you arrive on time, as access will be restricted after the interviews start. The interviews will take place at the Crozet Library on the following dates/times:

June 15: Interviews at 1 p.m. (Waterstreet Studio) and 2 p.m. (Timmons Group)

June 16: Interviews at 1 p.m. (Mahan Rykiel), 2 p.m. (Land Planning & Design Associates) and 3 p.m. (Nelson Byrd Woltz)

A firm will be selected later this month and should have design concepts to review by early Fall. The community will be asked to help select the final design. 

We'd like your input

What questions would you like to ask these landscape architecture firms? What characteristics are most important in awarding this project to a firm? Is it budget? The firm's vision for the space? Creativity? Experience with similar projects? You can leave a question or comment in the comment section of this post. You may also send an email to info@downtowncrozetinitiative.com. Please offer your thoughts by Monday, June 13. We look forward to hearing from you! 

 

 

May 12 Meeting Re-Cap

The Downtown Crozet Initiative and members of the Crozet community met on Thursday to discuss the status of projects related to the development of the Barnes Lumber area in downtown Crozet, as well as next steps. Here is a re-cap:

  • Developer Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners/Crozet New Town Associates reported to the group that a phase 1 rezoning was submitted to the County on April 4. There were no special use permits requested; everything fell within the current Crozet Master Plan and Downtown Crozet District Zoning Code.
    • Frank received comments back from the County and is meeting with VDOT and the County on May 24th.
    • The issues are as follows:
    1. Road Network – The County would like a grid network of roads, but cannot yet support the connections necessary for the grid to function well. These include a connection to 240 and a second connection onto Hill Top Street. 
    2. Sewer – There may not be adequate capacity for the development. The ACSA is working on a study to identify remaining capacity and a plan to upgrade capacity, but the timing for the upgrade has not been firmly established.
    3. Road Design – Some roads will need to be private because the parking patterns are not consistent with VDOT requirements. Public road alignments and final design will occur during siteplan review. 
    4. Traffic - The Library Avenue and Three Notch'd Road intersections will fail by 2029, with or without the Barnes Lumber development. A plan and funding are needed to address these intersections.
    • Milestone plans to address County comments and resubmit in early June. 
    • A Planning Commission meeting date will be set after review of Milestone's responses.  The meeting date is likely to be sometime in July or August. 
    • It will probably be September or October before it’s brought before the Board of Supervisors.
  • Phase 1 Engineering - Starting to tackle storm water and utilities. 
  • A Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued on May 5 to several local landscape architecture firms, plus some regional firms, for conceptual designs for a minimum of 28,000 sq. ft. for the civic space/plaza.  
    • The due date for responses is May 27. 
    • The group is hoping to have at least five firms respond.
    • The DCI Committee will meet in June to review RFP proposals. A final selection will be made in mid- to late-June.
  • The DCI Committee is a sub-committee of the Crozet Community Association (CCA). The DCI committee is requesting that the CCA apply for a 501(c)3 designation for grant purposes.
    • The DCI committee would like to apply for several grants for the civic space/plaza, including VHDA. 
    • The group is seeing grant writers. Please email info@downtowncrozetinitiative.com if interested. 

Next Steps

  • The DCI committee is planning a Town Hall Meeting to review the design options from the selected landscape architecture firm and help select a final design by late September. 
  • The DCI committee also is planning a Fall event to unveil the final design and kick-off a capital campaign to help fund the civic space/plaza. 
  • A Phase 1 site plan will be developed late 2016 or early 2017.
  • The developer is hoping to start construction the 2nd or 3rd quarter 2017.

An Update on Development in Downtown Crozet

The DCI Committee held its monthly meeting in early March to discuss the Barnes Lumber redevelopment, as well as some exciting news for downtown Crozet. A few highlights:

Phase 1 Zoning:

  • Developer Frank Stoner of Milestone Partners/Crozet New Town Associates expects to submit a revised, Phase 1 zoning application for the property later this month. Phase 1 is expected to accommodate 75,000 – 85,000 sq.-ft. of new commercial space with the option for multi-family residential above. The new submittal will be entirely consistent with the Downtown Crozet Zoning District designation and will not include any special permit request for first floor residential. A map of Phase 1 of the redevelopment can be seen above.
  • Frank is meeting with VDOT this week to discuss final scoping for a traffic study for the Phase 1 re-zoning. Once the traffic study is submitted, the County will begin formal review of the application.
  • The rezoning process will take approximately six months. The design and approval of the Phase 1 site plan will take an estimated 9-12 months, putting groundbreaking for the public civic space approximately 1.5 years out.

Proffers:

  • The developer will reserve and dedicate a minimum of of 28,000 sq.-ft. of public space in the first phase of development. A minimum of 12,000 sq.-ft. of contiguous area will be designated for a downtown plaza. All the public space will likely be dedicated to either the Crozet Park or a downtown property owners’ association to maintain. There is not a specific dollar figure at this time for the amount Milestone/CNTA will proffer toward the development of the space; however, the money would likely be earmarked toward final design and construction of the plaza and other public spaces.
  • The developer will proffer to build and dedicate all the public roads and utilities in Phase 1.

Grants:

  • The DCI is seeking grants to help fund the design, construction and maintenance of the civic space. The community and the developer want a hardscaped urban plaza that can accommodate a variety of civic uses. If the developer pays for the space, the cost would have to be passed on to future businesses that locate downtown, making commercial space unaffordable for the types of local businesses the community would like to see downtown. (Thus, the importance of seeking and applying for grants.)
  • The committee decided to flesh out details for the grant application and funding process and presented plans to the CCA at its March 11 meeting. The DCI committee is a sub-committee of the CCA. Approval from the CCA for the DCI grant process will mean the DCI can submit for grants without having to get permission from the larger body each time.

New Owners in Downtown Crozet:

  • Kurt Wassenaar and his partner at Blue Springs Development, Mark Green, purchased the property on Rt. 240 starting at Over The Moon Bookstore through Crozet Great Valu, excluding the Century Link building. The property includes the land behind the Rescue Squad and bordering the creek.
  • Blue Springs Development is getting to know its current tenants, listening to their needs and working on maintenance of the buildings.
  • Kurt and Mark expressed an interest in working closely with Frank Stoner, the community and the DCI so that downtown Crozet is cohesive in nature. They emphasized that residential development is important to revitalization in these areas because downtown businesses need more customers within walking distance.   
  • Kurt offered to attend the next DCI meeting to share a digital model of downtown Crozet.

The next DCI meeting will be held on April 7, from 12 pm – 1:30 pm at the Crozet Library. These meetings are open to the public. 

LESSONS FROM AMERICA'S GREATEST PUBLIC SPACE

Jacob & Liza Stoner in Central Park January 23, 2016

Jacob & Liza Stoner in Central Park January 23, 2016

I spent the weekend with my family in New York City last weekend and had the good fortune to witness the largest 1 day snowfall ever recorded in Central Park.  Sunday afternoon, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people of all ages were out enjoying the snow.  We heard at least 5 different languages and I've never seen a more creative assortment of snow men, women and children.  People were sledding on all manner of flat bottomed objects and there were shrieks of joy and laughter everywhere.  Snow has magical powers; we know that.  But great spaces can have the same effect and the scene sparked my curiosity about the history of Central Park and what lessons might actually apply to our public plaza in Crozet.  Here's what I learned about the history of the park:

640px-Heckscher_Playground_and_Central_Park_South_skyline_from_Rat_Rock.jpg
  1. The park, established in 1857 on 778 acres at what was then the north end of the City. It was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.  The park was not part of the original master plan for Manhattan; it was added some 30 years after the master plan was completed. 
  2. The park was under the control of local government and inadquate resources were dedicated to the ongoing maintenance of the park.  Consequently, the park quickly slipped into a first period of decline from the 1870's until 1934.  In that year, management of the park was restructured and a single individual, Robert Moses, was empowered to manage the park restoration.
  3. Again, in the early 1960's the park began a serious decline and it wasn't until citizen volunteers stepped in the late 70's to save the park that good things began to happen. In 1979, management of the park was restructured again and control was given to a citizen based board of directors.  What followed was a large scale public/private partnership that raised money for the restoration of the park and then actually built an endowment to support maintenance of the park in perpetuity.  

So what can the history of this iconic American park teach us about building a downtown plaza/park in Crozet?  Here are some initial thoughts:

  • Plans can, should, and will evolve over time.  
  • The size should be in scale with the buildings around it, it's purpose in the community, and the number of people we envision using the space.
  • Don't count on local government to build or maintain the park or, in time,  you're likely to be disappointed.
  • Citizen involvement is essential in every aspect of design and implementation of public space.
  • Effective management of public space is critical.
  • Maintenance costs should be considered during the design process and adequately funded from day one.

Please share stories, thoughts and ideas about this important community asset that's coming to downtown Crozet.

Thanks!

Frank Stoner