Crozet residents will notice some improvements and a few new tenants in the stretch of commercial space that extends from Crozet Pizza eastward on Rt. 240 to Crozet Market. Except for the CenturyLink building, all of these parcels are owned by Crozet Center Partners, LLC, the principal partners of which are Mark Green and Kurt Wassenaar, who bought the properties in 2016. Back then, the new owners talked about preserving the historic buildings in a careful and thoughtful way, and that’s still the main focus today.
“We’re doing some renovations, as you’ll see over the next couple of weeks as we finish things up,” said Green. “We’re repaving over on the shopping center side down by the Great Valu as that parking lot was falling apart, so about two-thirds of that is getting repaved. The fence has been repaired and it’s getting repainted. The retaining wall that has issues is being fixed up and painted, and so there are a lot of cosmetic things that we’re working on.”
The owners are also considering ideas for a renovation of the facade of the shopping center. “It’s a combination of three distinct architectural styles right now,” said Green, “none of which go together. You kind of scratch your head and say, ‘what were they thinking?’” He said that changes to the architectural design of the shopping center to make it more unified are still in the idea phase.
The entire set of parcels is currently zoned as “Downtown Crozet District,” which allows for a wide variety of retail and service businesses, office and civic spaces, and residential units on floors above the street-level commercial enterprises. Green said although those options are available, they would be considered down the road. “You never know—the car wash went out of business when the new one opened up down the street, so that piece is sitting there idle,” he said, “but I don’t think we’re going to do anything there in the near term.” Green confirmed a new vegan restaurant—“Eat Heal Glow”—that will occupy the space vacated by Sam’s Hot Dogs.
During the lean pandemic years, Crozet Center Partners tried to help its tenants stay afloat by subsidizing their rent. “We really worked with all of our tenants,” said Green. “We’ve got several different properties, and we have 100 tenants across the portfolio. And I can’t say enough about the grit that we saw from those tenants and how hard they worked to get through the pandemic. Each business is different and they had to handle things as best they could, and it was really inspirational.”
As the plan for the downtown Crozet Plaza takes shape, Green doesn’t see that development as competition, necessarily. “Crozet Plaza will be a very different project from ours,” he said. “Frank [Stoner] is a great guy, a great developer, and I think it’s just going to increase the critical mass of people and businesses in downtown Crozet, and that will be good for everybody.”