Plans for the development of a commercial center in downtown Crozet advanced recently as the Downtown Crozet Initiative (DCI) gained certification as an incorporated entity, an important step on the path toward securing a 501(c)(3) designation. Meg Holden will serve as president and Brenda Plantz as secretary/treasurer of the corporation, whose mission is to be “a proactive community development organization that serves as a catalyst for making Downtown Crozet a vibrant commercial and residential area.”
A 501(c)(3) organization is a nonprofit, tax-exempt status that would allow DCI, Inc. to receive donations and secure grant funding to further its economic development goals in Crozet, which include attracting new business, providing input on architectural review, facilitating infrastructure, and promoting public art and historical projects that beautify Crozet.
“DCI’s purpose is primarily educational, to provide information to businesses,” said Holden. “We are currently building a budget as part of the 501(c)(3) application and refining our by-laws, as well as actively recruiting board members, both those who have been involved with the project from the beginning and others who have a strong interest in making it happen.” The group would like to increase publicity about its plans and has added information about its mission, recent activity, and other resources to its website.
Frank Stoner, co-owner of Crozet New Town Associates (which owns the former Barnes Lumber Company parcels), updated the DCI on recent progress toward financing both the plaza project and associated Phase 1 roads at the group’s October 12 meeting. Of the $5 million in funding that Crozet New Town Associates (CNTA) is seeking for public improvements, approximately $2 million will be part of this year’s Albemarle County application for VDOT revenue-sharing funds.
The VDOT program requires matching funds from a city or county in order to award the grant, and CNTA will contribute the County’s share to qualify for the state funding. These funds would provide for an eastbound road connecting the downtown area to nearby Parkside Village, as well as an upgrade of the Square.
For the remaining $3 million to construct the central plaza, a proposal for bond funding from the County’s Economic Development Authority was to be considered in closed session by the Board of Supervisors in early October, but the Board ran out of time for a full consideration. Stoner thinks the proposal is persuasive. “The tax revenue from just a hotel and 4,700 square feet of business space would be enough to service the debt on the bond issue,” he said, and plans to try again with the Board in November.
“There are possible alternatives to the bond issue for funding the plaza,” said Stoner. “Those are also being explored right now and will likely be considered by the BOS. The rezoning application for Phase 1 [to change the current industrial zoning to mixed-use commercial] will likely go to the Planning Commission in December and the BOS in February or March of 2018.”
DCI, Inc. would like to hold another public engagement event soon, and perhaps present a white paper summary to tell the expanded story of the project. In the meantime, Stoner is optimistic about his downtown vision. “The only thing that could slow the schedule down is failure to come up with a funding plan for the plaza, or lack of support from VDOT for the revenue-share funding.”