The 20-acre J. Bruce Barnes Lumber Company, the key parcel in the future development of downtown Crozet, was put up for sale in November. The vacant eastern area of the property, between 8 and 10 acres, had been offered last year. Lumber company owner Carroll Conley said he subsequently had one offer for the whole property that he was not interested in.
“I want to see what the market will bear,” Conley said. “We might sell it and we might not. Business is so bad I can see no light at the end of the tunnel for the next couple of years.”
Conley set an asking price of $8 million on the property, which is zoned heavy industrial. It was zoned commercial until 1996, when Conley sought a rezoning to forestall any chance that the expansion of his lumber-drying kilns would raise zoning issues. According to Albemarle County zoning officials, the terms of the rezoning essentially limit the property’s use to a lumber business, so a new owner would likely face a rezoning before developing the property for a different use. The new main street that will be partially built to give access to the new Crozet library will also run through the southern section of the property and eventually connect with Parkside Village.
Conley said he would sell parts of the acreage if a there were a buyer who wants that. The property is listed with Lane Bonner of Hasbrouck Real Estate.
The lumber company had 52 employees in 2008 and 24 now, Conley said. “[Business] will have to pick up after the winter. We’re like a big family here. I’d like to keep it together. I don’t know if I can. I never planned to retire. To sell it is something I hate.”