History of the downtown crozet initiative
The Downtown Crozet Initiative began in 2015 as a volunteer, consensus-based organization developed to work closely with the developer and the Crozet community at large on the redevelopment of the Barnes Lumber site, which is located in the heart of Downtown Crozet.
The first goals of the committee were to help guide the process and engage the community in two public meetings, which were held on May 27 and June 11, 2015. Members of the community met to share ideas and feedback for the new town center. Results of these meetings can be found on the resources page here.
Following the community meetings, the committee reorganized to focus on the following:
- Provide guidance and expertise for Phase 1 of the design process, with an emphasis on creating a high-quality green civic space/plaza
- Communicate with and engage the community on a short- and long-term basis to help ensure the Barnes redevelopment and Downtown Crozet growth and revitalization were representative of the communities' wants and needs
- Champion efforts to help obtain county and state resources for much-needed infrastructure projects, including roadways, parking options, etc.
In September 2017, the Downtown Crozet Initiative became incorporated. DCI, Inc.'s new vision mission and goals can be found here.
Crozet has long been known as a beautiful rural area, quietly tucked away at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Originally called "Wayland's Crossing," it was renamed in 1870 in honor of Colonel Claudius Crozet, the French-born civil engineer who directed the construction of the Blue Ridge Tunnel.
For the past 15 years, the area has seen an increasing rate of housing development, in part because of nearby Charlottesville's reputation as a desirable tourist area and place to live, but also because Crozet has been named as a designated growth area by Albemarle County.
In 2004, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved the "Crozet Master Plan" after many months of community meetings and input. It was developed by a local architect and regional planning firm in order to regulate development patterns and provide a public forum for discussing the topic. The Master Plan allows the population of Crozet to grow to more than 12,000 people by the 2020s. In 2013, the population was more than 7,000, up from 5,565 at the 2010 census. In 2010, the Crozet Master Plan was once again revised based on community meetings and a survey, which received more than 700 responses.
Home-based, on-line employment has allowed residents to transport from more congested cities around the Commonwealth. The highly reputable health care facilities in the area have attracted a large number of medical students and professionals. Wineries and breweries popping up along the Blue Ridge have added tourism and employment, as well. Another change coming to Crozet involves the redevelopment of the old Barnes Lumber property, which encompasses much of the downtown section. The plan is for this site to offer civic, commercial and, eventually, residential space for the growing town, while preserving the unique character of Crozet.
About Barnes lumber
According to a June 2010 article in The Crozet Gazette, "The J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company traces its roots to 1922 when what was then known as Crozet Lumber Company was opened by John L. Barnes on the 20-acre parcel (then 33 acres) at the head of The Square." The company first specialized in walnut logs for veneer. Later, it cured high-quality Appalachian hardwoods used for cabinets, flooring and furniture.
Carroll Conley started out in 1968 as a truck driver for the company and then bought it in 1985. The company was prosperous until 2008, when the recession hit and the Chinese export market grew. The owners placed the property on the market and laid off its last employee at the end of August 2011. Carroll and Donna Conley stayed on as office employees, with the hope of either restarting operations or eventually redeveloping. However, the property was sold at auction in late June 2012 to Union First Bank. In December 2014, Milestone Partners closed on the 20-acre property along with a 1.75-acre parcel of the old CSX property.
Where is the Barnes Lumber Property?
The property is located just east of "The Square," next to the railroad tracks. Below is an aerial view.