A water main broke in a third-floor suite at Piedmont Place, causing water to pour through the lower floors, closing the businesses and causing extensive damage to inventory and equipment.
John Fontaine of Newtown Fitness, which occupies part of the lower level of the building on Library Avenue in downtown Crozet, said owner Andrew Baldwin notified the tenants Christmas afternoon that the fire department had responded to the building’s alarm system, discovered the break, turned off the power and water, and taped off the building. None of the businesses are open to the public for at least a couple of months.
Many of the businesses in Piedmont Place are small operator-owned establishments, and include Blue Ridge Bottle Shop, Morsel Compass, Carolina Obanda Beauty, Newtown Fitness, Smoked Kitchen and Tap, a Nest Realty office and the Crozet Creamery. The damage was extensive, but the structural integrity of the building wasn’t compromised, Baldwin said.
Baldwin said his initial estimate of the damage was much worse than a follow-up inspection revealed. “It turned out that it was mainly cosmetic,” he said. “We should have the building restored in two, maybe three months.” Thankfully, he said, his initial expectation of a seven-figure repair job turned out to be higher than what will actually be needed.
Baldwin said the break came from a cap on a pipe on the third floor and appeared to be unrelated to the Christmas cold snap. “By the time the alarm was triggered, it had been flooding for couple of hours,” he said. “The Fire Department came right away.” The Albemarle County Service Authority also responded quickly when the fire fighters had trouble shutting down the water supply to the building.
Piedmont Place houses a collection of small businesses, with a common area on the ground floor and luxury suites above. It was originally developed by Drew Holzwarth, and was an initial step in the redevelopment of the former site of Barnes Lumber. In 2019 the building was sold to Andrew and Isabelle Baldwin of Greenwood. Andrew Baldwin is a broker at Core Real Estate and Development.