Milestone Partners has received formal notice that the revenue sharing application for the extension of Library Avenue and the building of Main Street east to Parkside Village has been authorized for funding by VDOT, developer Frank Stoner announced at the July 12 meeting of the Downtown Crozet Initiative (DCI). The revenue sharing program enables localities to build local roads by matching local funds. However, VDOT only authorized 80 percent of the requested amount. VDOT will match Albemarle County’s funding to connect the Square and the proposed plaza with Hilltop St. and nearby neighborhoods. This is a major step forward in the goal of “growing the heart of Crozet.”
The meeting, led by DCI Chair Meg Holden, was attended by over 20 interested residents and business owners/representatives, including Perrone Robotics, Parkway Pharmacy, Pro Re Nata, King Family Vineyard, the Crozet Artisan Depot, and other arts organizations and stakeholders who are eager to support DCI’s plans to build a plaza on the former Barnes Lumber Company property. Milestone Partners has authorized design engineers to begin planning the road extension, and VDOT’s road design and approval will take about a year. The building of the Plaza cannot begin until after that.
The project team will consist of representatives from Milestone Partners, Albemarle County, VDOT, and the DCI. A marketing study is needed to determine demand and identify prospective tenants and buyers. An architectural design for buildings surrounding the plaza, such as building heights and appearance, is needed in the next three months. The rezoning application for phase 1 (shown in the photo above, limited by the red line on the right) will be re-submitted in August, and will come before the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors—who have indicated their support for the project—in October or November.
Suggestions for the plaza include a performing arts center as well as an outdoor concert space/music venue—which will require a special use permit. A nearby parking structure will probably be needed, and pedestrian walkways and bikeways will be included. There will be naming opportunities for the stage as well as other features, opportunities for participation by Western Albemarle students, and plans for signage and “wayfinding.” Dave Stoner, past chair of the Crozet Community Advisory Committee, has met with CSX railroad representatives, who welcomed plans to embrace Crozet’s railroad-based history and may donate an old caboose as a possible plaza feature.
The cost of the plaza will be about $3 million, to be shared by Albemarle County, Milestone Partners, and the non-profit DCI. A fundraising campaign will be launched in the near future—watch for the “Donate” button to appear on the DCI website at downtowncrozetinitiative.com.
Holden met recently with Bill Schrader, who led the successful fundraising campaign for the Crozet Library, to gather advice and ideas. Several subcommittees will be convened to plan the design of the Plaza as a uniquely Crozet destination, and to identify specific goals for how the raised funds will be spent. The first of these is an “Artists Advisory Committee” to explore how best to celebrate Crozet’s artistic identity in the design.
DCI’s vision is to “be a proactive community development organization that serves as a catalyst for making downtown Crozet a vibrant commercial and residential area where economies are strengthened, partnerships are created, historic sites are preserved, arts and culture thrive, affordable housing is available, trust is built, divides are bridged, and people of all ages become involved in the community.” They have used the Virginia Main Street Grant received earlier this year to develop a Strategic Plan to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” that encourages family friendly businesses and tourism.
Pat Groot, of Groot Consulting and Grant Services, distributed a draft work plan that adds action steps and will soon include expected outcomes. The Strategic Plan is available on the DCI website under the resources tab. Citizens are encouraged to get involved and provide input by using the contact form on the website or by attending meetings, which are held the first Thursday of each month, noon to 2 p.m. at Crozet Pizza.