The C-Ville Weekly ran a cover story today entitled “A change is gonna come: At a Crozet bar, the quiet before the storm.” The author seemed to be foreshadowing a meeting tonight at which the Albemarle County Planning Commission held a work session on a major new development project called Crozet Station. While very conceptual at this point (it was a pre-application review meeting), Crozet Station would redevelop, according to the staff report, “a substantial portion of Downtown Crozet that includes more than half the downtown businesses.” This is an area that includes Crozet Pizza, Three Notch'd Grill, and the IGA shopping center. All existing buildings would be demolished with this redevelopment proposal.
[Podcast available below]
Crozet Station, a project by property owner Sandra Everton with Bill Atwood as architect (presenting in photo at right; he designed Crozet Dairy Queen), would contain 52,000 to 56,000 square feet of commercial/retail space (site currently has 49,000 sq. ft.) and approximately 72 residential units, some above commercial on the first floor. Some of the shops and residential units would be 3 stories in height.
The buildings in the existing downtown that contribute substantially as historic resources (e.g. Crozet Pizza) are, according to the applicant, in poor condition and cannot be incorporated into the new development. The Crozet Master Plan does advocate for retaining historic buildings that contribute to Crozet’s character, but that objective cannot be realized against the wishes of a landowner to remove them. The area around the Crozet Pizza building is the heart of the town's historic fruit producing economy.
Mr. Atwood described the initial orientation of the new grocery store (see site plan image above) on Route 240 as following the “Target Model” reflecting the perpendicular placement of the building to the road (like the Target at Hollymead Town Center on Rt. 29). The size of the commercial area is going to be increased, according to Atwood, to compete for anchor tenants that may be attracted to Old Trail Village and other developments in Crozet area.
Staff raised the following questions for the Commission’s consideration
Should contributing historic structures be demolished for new development?
Staff report: “The loss of the ‘contributing’ commercial buildings… could eliminate the possibility of establishing a historic district in Crozet. These commercial buildings stand at the physical core of the town and they represent some of the most important history of Crozet.”
In their discussion, the Commissioners placed a priority on protecting or paying tribute to at least the facades of the buildings around Crozet Pizza to maintain the historic character of this block as it currently exists along the street.
Is the mix of residential and commercial/retail uses appropriate?
Staff report: “Staff is not concerned with the uses proposed or the residential densities… Staff believes that, without a more substantial ratio of commercial to residential use, the vitality of Downtown as a center will be compromised.” [Note: This statement was based on an initial plan showing only 42,000 square feet of commercial]. In other words, the amount of residential use proposed is acceptable to staff, so long as there is a more substantial commercial component which would bring additional commercial and employment opportunities.
In their discussion, the Commissioners indicated their approval of the mix of uses, the increase in commercial space presented by the applicant, and the positive aspects of the inclusion of “workforce housing.”
What features of the design and layout does the Planning Commission find appropriate?
What would the Planning Commission suggest to improve the layout and design?
In their discussion, the Commissioners talked about the challenge of working around Rt. 240 and the railroad tracks in a way that would maintain a pedestrian friendly environment. There was concern about VDOT’s interest in widening Route 240 in this area. There was concern about the open parking lot along Route 240 and a preference for relegated parking (i.e. hidden from Rt. 240).
Listen to the podcast: Download CoPC20060530-CrozetStation.mp3
01:00 -- Staff report by Rebecca Ragsdale, Senior Planner, Albemarle County
09:10 -- Sandra Everton, applicant/landowner
10:26 -- Bill Atwood, project architect. Discussion with Planning Commission.
27:20 -- Crozet resident Barbara Westbrook discusses challenges of getting residents providing feedback at these meetings. Asks if it will still be possible to have a restaurant in top of one of the new buildings. Asks about continuity plans and transition for existing businesses.
31:26 -- Crozet resident Mike Marshall, mentions that to his knowledge no one involved in the Crozet Master Plan ever considered the demolition of these buildings a possibility. Thinks as much as possible should be done to save these buildings.
38:28 -- George Novey, adjoining property owner
40:00 -- Discussion by Planning Commission