Barnes Lumber

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.

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

The Five Features of Great Public Spaces

 Riverwalk. San Antonio, TX. Photo Credit: Urbanscale.com

Riverwalk. San Antonio, TX. Photo Credit: Urbanscale.com

The creation of a public park/plaza area in the Barnes Lumber redevelopment is a main focus of the Downtown Crozet Initiative. The group is providing feedback on aspects such as the location and design of the space and also is working to identify and apply for grants for funding. Of course, the main goal of the DCI for the public park/plaza area is to create a dynamic space that will serve many purposes for the community. Ideally, this space will host community events and will be a central location for members of the community to gather on a regular basis. 

So what makes a public space attractive for communities? In a blog post on urbanscale.com, the author highlights five features of vibrant public spaces that he's observed in his experience as an economic development advisor and urban planner. In his opinion, a successful public park includes these characteristics:

  1. They are small.
  2. They are surrounded by diversity.
  3. They mix public and private together.
  4. They are centrally located.
  5. They are designed to attract people.

Check out the blog post in full and let us know your thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Have anything to add?

Making Progress: A Look at the Latest Developments for the Barnes Lumber Site

Here is the latest progress update for the Downtown Crozet Initiative (DCI), which was shared during the DCI Committee's monthly meeting on 12/17:

o   A general road layout for all phases of the project has been reviewed by the DCI committee, the CCAC and the county. The roads create a block structure for downtown that can be built over time. While the new road plans are not completely consistent with the Crozet Master Plan, the community and the county have indicated their support. The developer will provide additional perspective drawings in January. Planning efforts for Phase 1, including the downtown plaza, will begin in January.

o   The developer, Crozet New Town Associates/Milestone Partners, plans to re-submit a revised re-zoning application for Phase 1 of the redevelopment project in January.

o   An updated traffic study for Phase 1 of the site has been completed and will be submitted with the Phase 1 re-zoning application.

o   In conjunction with the re-zoning application, the developer will request an amendment of the current zoning proffers for a portion of the remaining property to allow for certain uses like parking, research and development that are desirable for downtown but aren’t currently allowed under the heavy industrial zoning in place on the Barnes site.

o   Phase 1 of the plan includes a minimum of 37,000 sq.-ft. of commercial/retail space and 37,000 sq.-ft. of office or residential space. Phase 1 will also include reservation for a mixture of space for a downtown plaza/park/civic area that will be dedicated for public use.

We will continue to share updates as soon as they are available. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Here’s to hoping for a successful 2016!

Barnes Lumber Redevelopment: The Latest Plan

Barnes Lumber Plan Oct 2015
Barnes Lumber Block Plan Oct 2015

Milestone representative Frank Stoner met with the Crozet Community Association (CCA) in September and the Crozet Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) in October to report on progress and share the latest masterplan concepts. The most recent plan incorporates a block scheme on the Barnes site without a continuous extension of Library Avenue to Parkside Village. The new scheme, which closely resembles one suggested by local, renowned architect Warren Byrd at the August CCAC meeting, includes a large plaza/park on the highest, most level property in downtown. 

Barnes Lumber: Progress Update

 Current Barnes Lumber site. 

Current Barnes Lumber site. 

After five hours of community meetings and four months since then, lots of people are wondering, “What progress has been made to the Barnes Lumber site?” Here is the latest update:

  • VDOT and the County are evaluating the design options in the context of the Crozet Master Plan and VDOT guidelines. VDOT will provide scoping requirements for an updated traffic study that will inform decisions about road connections, profiles and phasing.
  • Design work will continue for several more months and include more emphasis on technical requirements of each design element. Minimum feasible block dimensions, grading impacts and phase 1 minimum requirements are among the items to be addressed.
  • The Downtown Crozet Initiative Planning Committee met earlier this month to discuss future membership and a formal charter for the organization. Membership is intended to represent a broad cross-section of the Crozet community and include skill sets that will be valuable for the group as it becomes more active in the planning, design, marketing and economic development aspects of the redevelopment.
  • Work is underway on a community survey that will be available to all Crozet residents and stakeholders. The survey is an important prerequisite to a market study that is in the current Implementation section of the Master Plan. The survey should provide a more comprehensive understanding of community demographics, retail needs, and development preferences.
  • The County applied for a design grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to help fund a market study and preliminary design work on a civic plaza. In September, the County received notice that the grant was denied. However, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development recommended that the County apply in a different category, which it plans to do. The County and DCI will evaluate future grant funding opportunities to help fund design of the civic and green spaces, complete a market study and launch new economic development initiatives. 

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks!

Community Meetings Help Shape Plan for Barnes Lumbers

 One of five breakout sessions during the May 27 Community Meeting. 

One of five breakout sessions during the May 27 Community Meeting. 

The Crozet community had the opportunity to share ideas and opinions about the future design and development of the Barnes Lumber property and Downtown Crozet earlier this year during two meetings held on May 27th and June 11th. The meetings were widely publicized, well attended - more than 150 people attended each one - and well covered by the media. The events were sponsored by the Crozet Community Association and Barnes Lumber property owners, Crozet New Town Associates. Dialog + Design, a local planning and facilitation firm, conducted interviews, established a planning committee and hosted the two meetings. Their reports are available here

Below is a summary of the feedback from the community meetings:

  • Overall, most people have high aspirations for downtown Crozet:
    • They want high-quality development that brings jobs, creates vitality, and offers new retail and restaurant options.
    • People love the idea of an open-air civic space toward the west end of the property close to the Square (providing views of the mountains). Most people want some combination of hardscape and green space that can accommodate farmer’s markets, concerts and other civic events, and provide outdoor dining opportunities. Many people expressed support for some sort of water feature in the civic space, as well. 
    • Residents want a downtown that is safe for walkers, bikers and families to visit. There was wide support for enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access throughout downtown. Most of the older neighborhoods around downtown do not have sidewalks.
    • People want a downtown that captures the unique character of Crozet. Attendees supported a mix of building types and styles, provided the architecture captures the essence of Crozet. Old Trail and Stonefield were both cited as architectural examples of what people don’t want for Downtown Crozet.
    • Adding residential options within easy walking distance to downtown was also supported, but not at the expense of the needed commercial space. (Note: The current Crozet Master Plan, referenced below, does not currently include zoning for residential properties in this area.)
  • The vast majority of people in attendance had not participated in the Crozet Master Planning process that started in 2002, was adopted in 2004, and most recently updated in 2010. The Master Plan has been the County’s blueprint for Crozet development and few, if any, exceptions to the plan have been approved since the plan was first adopted. It’s not surprising when you consider that more than half the population in Crozet today wasn’t there in 2002. Old Trail and other residential development have brought lots of new people, new wealth and new ideas to the town in the last 10 years. 
  • From an urban design standpoint, most people favored a gridded network of streets on the Barnes Lumber property with connections to 240 under the railroad tracks, Parkside Village, Hilltop Street and the Crozet Park. The Crozet Master Plan, however, calls for a continuous divided avenue from downtown to Parkside Village.
  • Parking was widely acknowledged as a problem in downtown, even without the development of Barnes, and there was support for a long-term parking plan that includes a parking garage at some point in the future. 
  • Many news articles also re-capped the meetings. You can go here for additional information and perspectives.

10 Guiding Principles for a Successful Downtown

 Photo by The Crozet Gazette. 

Photo by The Crozet Gazette. 

These are the guiding principles we ask everyone to strive to adhere to as we work together to grow the heart of Downtown Crozet.

1.     Be Authentic. Development that is true to the nature of Crozet: eclectic, small town. Honor and draw on historic precedents but don’t try to copy things that can’t be reproduced.

2.     Be Environmentally Responsible.  Barnes Lumber is an industrial brownfield that needs to be remediated before it can be redeveloped. 

3.    Create Reasons and Places for Community to Gather.  That’s what town centers are all about.

4.     Honor Pedestrians and Bicyclists.  Most of Downtown Crozet is neither bike nor pedestrian friendly. That needs to change for downtown to be successful.  

5.     Seek Connectivity Wherever Possible.  For downtown businesses to be successful, people need to be able to get to them. 

6.     Be Flexible.  Needs and wants evolve over time. Maintain flexibility to take advantage of future opportunities. That doesn’t mean we have to compromise our other principles.

7.     Be Inclusive and Affordable.  Create affordable opportunities for local business to locate and grow in downtown. Create a variety of housing opportunities walkable to downtown. Focus on higher density in the core.

8.     Be Mindful of the Market. Understand and capitalize on Crozet’s strengths, but be realistic about what’s possible now. We have to build buildings that satisfy some market demand or downtown will fail.  

9.     Work Together.  Building downtown is an enormous challenge and without the strong support of the Crozet community and Albemarle County, it won’t happen.  We’ll need to build trust, consensus, enthusiasm and commitment before we can build roads and buildings.

10. Be Resourceful and Proactive.  Don’t assume that good things will happen if we wait long enough. Good things happen when good people make them happen.  Crozet has a new library and downtown streetscape because Crozetians made it happen. If we want good businesses to come to Crozet, let’s figure out what it will take to get them there and then do it. If we want high quality civic space in downtown, let’s figure out what it should look like, what it will cost and how we can pay for it. Then let’s make it happen!

Is there anything missing from this list that you'd like to add? Any thoughts on the current list you'd like to share?