Barnes Lumber

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

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?

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. 

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.