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.