Downtown Crozet Initiative

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

 

 

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! 

 

 

Get Involved with the Downtown Crozet Initiative

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The Downtown Crozet Initiative Steering Committee is a volunteer organization whose primary goal is to promote economic vitality downtown and advocate on behalf of the Crozet community for the creation of a new central plaza/park area on the Barnes Lumber property. The group is working with the developer, Crozet New Town Associates/Milestone Partners, the county, local business owners and residents/land owners in Crozet to help plan, gather community input and determine resources needed for the design and construction of the plaza area.

The group meets monthly, typically at the Crozet Library. Anyone is welcome to attend and observe these meetings; they are open to the public. Specifically, the committee is seeking Crozetians who have experience with or are currently:

o   Urban design/planning

o   Landscape architecture

o   Construction

o   Grant writing

o   Fundraising

o   Local/downtown business owners

o   Parkside Village residents

o   Claudius Crozet Park board members

More information about the Steering Committee can be found on this page. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 7, at 12 p.m. at the Crozet Library.

If you are interested in becoming an active member of this group, please email us at info@downtowncrozetinitiative.com

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: 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!

A Boutique Hotel for Downtown Crozet

The quaint Chamberlin Inn in Cody, Wyoming

The quaint Chamberlin Inn in Cody, Wyoming

Some of you may have heard recently that a boutique hotel has expressed interest in building during Phase 1 of the Downtown Crozet Initiative. This is true! In fact, developers have had multiple meetings with the interested party. Of course, nothing will be built until major infrastructural challenges, including parking and traffic flow, and a Phase 1 plan for the site have been addressed and approved. But, once all of this happens (hopefully in 2016), the hope is the hotel will break ground soon after.

The idea of a boutique hotel was discussed during Crozet community meetings. Many of you expressed views that a hotel would provide a great opportunity to create greater independence from Charlottesville, making Crozet more than just another bedroom community. Here are some additional thoughts on a small hotel in Downtown Crozet:

  • Hotels have the ability to add constant vitality to a project by drawing guests to the site - and to nearby businesses and restaurants - throughout the day
  • A hotel would support local tourism by providing a place for out-of-town guests to stay who are visiting for local weddings, wine and brewery tours, and other events 
  • A hotel would bring more jobs to the area
  • A hotel's amenities, such as conference rooms and larger event spaces, would be an added benefit for downtown businesses

What do you think about a hotel coming to the area?

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.