Couture Design, the flower shop that formerly occupied the space long known as Patterson’s Flower Shop on Three Notch’d Road, moved to Clover Lawn on Rt. 250 in December, continuing a trend that has seen established downtown enterprises relocate to new highway commercial space.
Store owner Ken Ward said he was avoiding a rent increase he couldn’t afford and chose a smaller store with a lower rent. He said the terms he was offered for the new location were generous, and he has seen an increase in walk-in customers since moving.
Tenants in other businesses still in north downtown said they thought rents should be left unchanged—for many they have not been raised for years—considering that the properties haven’t been improved for some time.
David Wyant, who manages the properties—all those from Crozet Avenue east to Crozet Great Valu—on behalf of his mother Sandra Everton, whose father Frank Woods had diligently acquired them, said he has many prospective tenants seriously interested in the former Couture Design space as well as that vacated by Pets R Us when it went out of business.
“Right now, with the economy being what it is, we’re just chugging along,” said Wyant. “We’re trying to spruce things up as we can afford to.
“We don’t have any big plans. There is the Crozet Station plan drawn up by [architect] Bill Atwood, but I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon. Some spaces are vacant, but we have people lined up and getting their financing. The key thing for us is that people want to be in downtown. So we have a number of people who are very seriously interested, but nothing is inked yet.”
Among them is Dollar General stores, whose corporate headquarters recently announced that it intends to build or renovate hundred of stores across the South. Their Crozet store is jammed with inventory and does a steady business. “We are in negotiations with them,” Wyant said, “and exploring a number of options, including by building an addition.”
The parking area behind the Fruit Growers Buildings was recently paved, increasing its parking spaces and allowing snow to be removed more efficiently, but the paving contractor could not finish the job before cold weather set in. The lane behind the stores between Crozet Avenue and the car wash will be paved when the weather allows it, Wyant said. “We are trying to work on improvements from one end to the other,” he said.
“We’ve been ready to roll on re-siding the Fruit Growers Buildings, but we’ve been delayed in getting a permit. The county wants us to submit a site plan for the whole property. But we’re just trying to replace old siding.” Wyant said the new siding will be a red metal that retains the building’s traditional look. “We want it to look like Crozet and that is what Crozet people think it should look like. We don’t want Crozet to look like 29 north.”
Wyant said he believes the current tenants are happy with the status quo and some have approached him interested in finding ways to enlarge their spaces. He expects to be able to announce new tenants for the empty stores before long.