“It [Art] feeds the soul….We’re inspired by it, every day we come in we inspired by the beauty that the people create in our community.” - Gillian Ruffa
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is currently accepting applications from novice hikers for its backpacking course in Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southwest Virginia. The course will be held in early November. According to the ATC, "the 3 day/2-night led backpacking course will help new hikers feel prepared to successfully hike the A.T. while gaining an appreciation for the outdoors, knowledge of the A.T., and exposure to long-distance hiking culture."
The course is limited to six participants, and spots will be tentatively reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis (applications will be reviewed and selected by ATC staff). The course is $375, which includes food and course materials. To apply, click here.
Why has so much time and effort been spent on developing a plaza for downtown Crozet? After researching many successful small towns across America, reviewing key studies on what it takes to build prosperous communities, and speaking with countless industry experts and advisors, one thing was apparent: the most successful small towns in America have a town “center,” the heart of the community.
Crozet is already a wonderful community that has captured the hearts of everyone who lives, works, and visits here. But, downtown could BE and offer so much more. The plaza will serve as the catalyst for what will be an even more vibrant and successful downtown. It will help Crozet attract the types of local businesses that will enhance everything that we love about our charming and quirky little community. Imagine kids running around playing games as you quietly enjoy your coffee from the park bench, friends meeting up at an outdoor café surrounding the plaza, outdoor events with food trucks and live music, movies under the stars…the possibilities are endless.
MAKING THE PLAZA A REALITY
Input and support from the entire community is vital to ensuring that downtown grows organically and retains the uniqueness that we’re all working to achieve. In order to attract and keep the types of businesses the community has requested: local cafes, restaurants, retail shops, a boutique hotel, and new industry (likely tech-based businesses), we need to keep rent rates affordable. To do this, the developer cannot solely fund the plaza. If he does, guess where he’s going to recoup that cost? Rent rates.
The developer, Frank Stoner, is donating the land, but the County and our community need to play a part in creating the space. Since Crozet has been designated a growth area by the County, it’s our job to make sure that when this growth occurs, it’s done in a way that will preserve everything we love about Crozet while ensuring it’s a success.
We’re seeking as much input from the community as possible. If you’re interested in joining us to help revitalize downtown Crozet and make this plaza a reality, please email us at email@example.com.
In addition to our monthly DCI meetings, we wanted to give you an update on a major focus of our work over the past several months.
Earlier this year, the DCI was awarded a grant through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Virginia Main Street program. Since Crozet is not a town or city, we cannot be a Main Street Community. So officially, we are a DHCD: Commercial District Affiliate of the Main Street program.
Virginia Main Street offers a range of services and assistance to communities interested in revitalizing their historic commercial districts. As part of the grant, the Main Street program offers a list of strategies for communities to choose from that help guide revitalization efforts. The selected strategies are to be based on a “solid understanding of the district’s economy and its position in the regional market.” The DCI selected three strategies based on feedback received from public meetings held in 2016 and 2017; regular monthly meetings with the DCI members, community and county; and, the Crozet community survey. They include:
1. Family-Friendly Strategy
Family-friendly commercial districts offer a range of products and services for families. These districts host special events geared toward families and provide a safe environment in which to have fun. Businesses offer products and services for these audiences, as well as store hours for busy families. More than anything, this strategy focuses on children. With many families living in and moving to Crozet, the DCI felt this strategy was an ideal fit. Respondents to the 2017 Crozet Community Survey found Crozet to be a family-friendly community, rating it 4.2 on a 1 to 5 scale where 5 best described Crozet.
2. Entrepreneurial Ecosystems
More than anything, this strategy is defined by the value of place and the physical environment as central factors in creating and growing successful enterprises. It emphasizes the creation and support of great places and spaces for people to live and work, and for commercial districts to attract new businesses and ideas to contribute to the development of the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
According to the Crozet Community Survey, many Crozet residents drive to Charlottesville (32% several times a week; 26% weekly; 24% several times a month), Waynesboro (6% several times a week; 19% weekly; 24% several times a month) or to Crozet shopping areas along Route 250 outside of the downtown district (37% several times a week; 34% weekly; 18% several times a month). Residents also frequently shop downtown (42% several times a week; 22% weekly; 15% several times a month). At the same time, 98% of respondents support existing small businesses in Crozet, and 90% want downtown Crozet to be a quality commercial center with a diversity of businesses and services. This contrast suggests residents would prefer to shop in downtown Crozet if the desired goods and services were present.
The DCI’s goal is to adhere to the characteristics that make Crozet so admirable and charming. For future businesses, we are aiming to attract and retain independently owned shops, restaurants and bars, and services that people working in downtown Crozet will need. With the proposed design of the Barnes Lumber property, the new town center Plaza will complete the “spaces” aspect of this strategy, as it will be located near historic properties, restaurants, cafes, and other businesses desired by the working community.
3. Tourists and Tourism
Marketing downtown Crozet as a tourist destination is suitable given its proximity to the Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, George Washington National Forest, and Claudius Crozet Tunnel (park under construction). Its potential for becoming an Appalachian Community; promotion of the rich agricultural history of the area, including the emergent wine, beer and cider industry and farm-to-table mentality; a destination for day and touring cyclists along the 76 Bikeway; a burgeoning arts community; and increasingly, a wedding destination site, also will help draw people from outside of the area. Authenticity of a location also plays a large part in marketing a community as a tourist destination. The primary economic benefit of tourism is that it brings outside consumer spending to the community. This will benefit the businesses in downtown Crozet, but the DCI also is well aware that an increase in visitors may make downtown feel “less local” if it gets crowded with traffic, experiences an increase in prices, etc. This will play a major part in our planning for this strategy moving forward.
Get Involved in Our Revitalization Efforts for Downtown Crozet
We tried to highlight the most important aspects of each strategy, but many more details about each can be found here. It’s also important to note that the DCI is focused solely on downtown Crozet; however, the hope is that the work that takes place in downtown will benefit businesses and the community as a whole in the greater Crozet area.
We would love for you to join our efforts! We will be developing a work plan for each of the strategies. If you have any interest in joining one of the three committees that have formed to tackle each of these strategies, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment below. Thank you!
Survey Results are in. Read what Crozet resident had to "say" about the growth and changes.
1. Welcoming Committee
You don’t have to enlist the help of a formal welcoming committee, but it’s simple and easy to make a new family feel welcomed to the neighborhood. Stop by to introduce yourself and your family (and even your pets!) and consider exchanging phone numbers (or email addresses). Bring a small dish or bouquet of fresh flowers to make their likely-bare new home feel lived in. Ask the new family if they would like recommendations for utilities providers, doctors, dentists, vet’s office or anywhere else. If you are willing and able, offer to host a dinner/cookout once they are settled so they can meet with other neighbors.
2. Maintain Curb Appeal
No one wants to have the house that drags down the value of all other homes on the street. Be conscientious of maintaining your lawn and landscaping, at least to the same level as the rest of the neighborhood. This includes mowing the lawn, trimming bushes and trees, keeping clutter at bay (or at least not visible to neighbors), and correcting any home maintenance or safety issues that are especially visible. You’ll appreciate a well-manicured lawn and tidy home appearance from your neighbors as well!
3. Respectful of Outdoor Noise
Chances are, you checked out many neighborhoods before settling on the home you are moving into. You should have a good idea of the demographics/backgrounds of the types of people who live in your new neighborhood. Make sure that you maintain respect when hosting gatherings or parties, whether it be during the daytime or in the evening. Ask guests to park in your driveway or in front of your house so as not to block neighbors parking. Try to keep noise to a minimum when a party lasts late into the evening. And, when possible, just invite the neighbors to attend!
4. Go the extra Mile
Does your neighborhood have an HOA? Do you own pets? Make sure you know and follow any HOA rules that apply to your community. Be responsible with your pets, ensuring that you clean up after them and follow any/all leash laws in your city. If you have an issue with a neighbor, try to first discuss it with that person. Don’t be the neighborhood gossip. Respect your neighbor’s property and their belongings. Lend a helping hand when you can.
From early spring to late fall, Wildrock welcomes the public on Wednesday and Saturday by reservation to enjoy a one-of-a-kind local nature and wildlife experience. The entry fee is "pay what you can” and guests are invited to walk the discovery trail with a self-guided "trail adventure" back pack, explore whimsical and imaginative play zones on the playscape, enjoy Easy Camping Overnights, or sign-up for specialty classes or day treks into the Blue Ridge foothills. This is an experience your kids will never forget!
Think fresh, crisp apples picked straight from the orchard. Think juicy, sweet peaches at their prime ripeness alongside peach butter and peach preserves. Visit Chiles Peach Orchard and experience the joy of farming while indulging in the freshest, locally-grown produce. Pick your own fruit, shop in the orchard shop and bring home local goods for the whole family to enjoy.
Looking for something fun to outdoors on a Sunday? King Family Vineyards hosts polo matches on Sundays between Memorial Day Weekend and mid-October. Matches last 2 hours and there is plenty of fun to be had for the whole family! Kids are invited onto the field between matches to stomp divets, staff drive around in golf carts with bottles of wine available for purchase, and patrons can park wherever they like around the polo field while bringing all their favorite creature comforts. It’s fun to be had for all!
Open all year round, Mint Springs Valley Park features 520 acres where you can enjoy trails fishing, boating and numerous playgrounds. Pack a lunch and utilize the picnic tables, grills and shelters throughout the park. If you are looking to simply explore the beauty that is Crozet, this would be an excellent place for your whole family to spend a day!
In the mood for some casual pizza? Crozet Pizza is well known around the central Virginia area. It opened in 1977 when the Crum family renovated an old building that had been unoccupied for years. For the thirty-one years that Bob and Karen Crum operated the family-run business, they hand made every single pizza. Their daughter now runs the historical restaurant and guarantees fun, a history lesson, and the best pizza you’ll find in Crozet!
Last, but certainly not least, is the abundance of local vineyards and breweries that pepper the beautiful county around Crozet. Starr Hill Brewery and Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery feature family friendly events year round. Stinson Vineyards, Grace Estate Winery and White Hall Vineyards boast incredible views, a beautiful atmosphere (inside and outside) and plenty of local history and wines to enoy.
Photo Credit: Christina Snow, Crozet, Va/Wildrock
As the DCI and the Crozet Community Association work towards the fulfillment of the Crozet Master plan, there are routine meetings and events where anyone is welcome and encouraged to attend. While the future of Crozet does have a plan, plans evolve, and both the meetings, emails and social pages are meant to keep your informed.
Reasons why you should engage with the future of Crozet
1. Have a say in the Crozet Master Plan for the Barnes Lumber site: To date there is a planned Crozet Plaza for the old Barnes Lumber site. The space is intended to serve as a place for locals to gather and enjoy fairs, concerts, farmers markets, or simply just time with friends/neighbors. Attending the meetings where ideas and information about this site are on the agenda, allows you to weigh in and share your insight on behalf of the Crozet community.
2. Get to know other peers: Crozet is full of so many amazing people. Attending the meetings and engaging with other Crozet locals is a great way to network and socialize. We encourage socializing, hence the Crozet Community Plaza! Meeting other that share in your vision, or even those that don’t is valuable. Whether you have a healthy debate or make a new friend, one thing you all may have in common, is your love for Crozet.
The DCI and CCA work to ensure all T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted. They want to embrace the culture of Crozet, while overseeing and standing behind the future growth. If you live in Crozet, or care about the town for any other reason, besides being a current resident, we invite you to stay connected. We want to know your thoughts, opinions and what you would like to see (or not see) as the town blossoms.
Describing Crozet can only go so far with words. Images of the area, the personalities that live in Crozet and the strong community is evident in these pictures. When asking social media followers to share their images of Crozet, whether it meant of their family, friends, fur babies, landscape or favorite food; images started to roll in! These pictures don't just tell the story of Crozet, it tells the story of those that love living in this small, but thriving, Virginia town. From days spent at the baseball field, playing in a local park, eating local, or embracing in an amazing landscape, here's a little Crozet story. . . enjoy!
Our Crozet in Pictures by Slidely Slideshow
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.