As Crozet evolves, it is important to communicate a clear and distinct identity that celebrates the unique characteristics and future goals of the community. Who is Crozet, and what do we want it to become? Those are two important questions we plan to tackle in the coming months. And, we’re asking for the community’s help.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com if interested.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.