Business Briefs: Flooding Closes Piedmont Place Businesses

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All the businesses at Piedmont Place will close for a few months. Photo: Malcolm Andrews

A Christmas-day water line break in a third-floor suite at Piedmont Place caused water to pour through the lower floors, closing the businesses and causing extensive damage to inventory and equipment. “Because of the holiday, no one was in the building except one tenant on the fourth floor, above the leak,” said owner Andrew Baldwin, “So it wasn’t immediately discovered, and it dripped for quite a while before the alarm went off.” Despite the bitterly cold weather recorded that day, the leak was not related to freezing and thawing pipes. Instead, it was a cap on a water line on the third floor in an unoccupied suite that burst. 

Baldwin said his initial estimate of the damage was much worse than a follow-up inspection revealed. “It turned out that the damage was mainly cosmetic,” he said. “We should have the building restored in two, maybe three months.” He’d expected a seven-figure repair job and up to a year’s hiatus when he first came to the scene, but as the water drained, he was glad to revise the damage downward. “It’s a really well-built structure, with everything encased in concrete. The repairs will be mostly to damaged dry wall.” He said he expects to be in close touch with the tenants as everyone gets a better idea about the way forward.

Shortly after the water line break at Piedmont Place, water is visible through the door nearest the Crozet Creamery. Photo: Malcolm Andrews

John Fontaine of Newtown Fitness, which occupies part of the lower level of the building on Library Avenue in downtown Crozet, said 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 taped off the building. Fontaine noted the timing of the closure was especially unfortunate for his business. “People are most interested in coming to the gym in the first few months after the New Year.”

Baldwin said the Fire Department came right away, and 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. 

Many of the businesses in Piedmont Place are small operator-owned establishments, including The Blue Ridge Bottle Shop, Morsel Compass, Carolina Obanda Beauty, Newtown Fitness, Smoked Kitchen and Tap, a Nest Realty office and the Crozet Creamery. 

Several of the businesses expressed thanks to the Crozet Volunteer Fire Department for their quick response on Christmas Day. Although still trying to adjust to the sudden change of plans, there’s a certain amount of optimism about the future: “It certainly wasn’t how we expected to end Christmas Day, but thankful that the damage wasn’t as severe as expected,” said Jude Russell of the Blue Ridge Bottle Shop. The businesses in Piedmont Place have received messages of support ever since the incident, she said. “Crozet really is a great community.”

Goal-Oriented Care at Skyline In-Home Services

In his 23 years of serving people with mental and physical challenges, Tim Campbell noticed that often some important elements are missing in conventional care. “Typical companion care is sometimes limited to supervision,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just someone sitting and watching television with a client. I wanted to create a model that offers more.” 

Campbell started his own company, Skyline In-Home Services, as a new kind of service designed to benefit people who need care in their homes but also want to improve their quality of life. “We speak at length with potential clients and their families to accomplish specific goals,” he said. Between them, they agree on a vision that will include moving forward, whether it’s a better-organized home, more of a social life, a sound nutrition program, an exercise routine or some basic internet skills. 

Tim Campbell wants his new business, Skyline In-Home Services, to set tangible goals for clients. Submitted photo.

He gave the example of one client: “First, we needed to clean and de-clutter his home,” Campbell said. “Once we got that under control, we found some events that would get him out of the house to see other people, and provided a driver to get him there.” Campbell has set up the business to be quickly responsive to client needs, so he is not aligned with any insurance company. “We want to let people reach us without a lot of bureaucracy or delay.” His type of business doesn’t allow hands-on nursing service, but he’s able to serve as a liaison between health care providers, and to keep families alerted as medical needs arise. Skyline also offers meal preparation, medication reminders, nutrition counseling and stress management, all with an eye to helping clients learn to manage their own lives as independently as they are able. 

Rates for the service vary, according to client needs, and those in the Crozet-Greenwood area are eligible for lower rates because of the shorter distance. The business is just a couple of months old, but Campbell hopes to welcome new clients and expand his staff at the start of the new year. Find out more; and contact Campbell through the website, skylineinhomeservices.com.

First Crozet Christmas Market Draws Hundreds 

Flannery Buchanan and Chelsea Powers didn’t know what to expect when they hatched a plan to invite dozens of small local vendors to set up temporary sales tables in established downtown businesses for the 2022 Holiday Market. “We had no history to go by,” Powers said. “We didn’t know whether it would work or not.” 

Buchanan and Powers are the owners of Bluebird & Co., a business that sells books, unique clothing, and one-of-a-kind products, many handmade. They had no need to worry. Long before the noon starting time, people poured into downtown Crozet, hoping to get a jump on the day’s shopping, or stopping to have coffee at The Yellow Mug or the Mudhouse, both hosts for small-business vendors

Alexys Gray of Lex’s Kitchen Bakery sold all of her baked goods by mid-afternoon at Crozet’s first Christmas Market. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Many stopped by to thank the women for their idea: “One person said she’d never seen as many people in the street,” Powers said. “Another, who’d moved back here from D.C., said it reminded her of a Hallmark card.” Parking lots were full between downtown and Starr Hill, and the weather was mild, so many shoppers walked between those two market sites. “People also walked here from Old Trail and the other neighborhoods. It’s really not that far.”

The vendors expressed gratitude, too. Rachel Willis of Cakes by Rachel, stationed in the annex (next to Bluebird & Co.), sold out within minutes and, across town in the tank room of Starr Hill, the hungry crowd devoured every crumb of the cookies and cupcakes sold by Alexys Gray of Lex’s Kitchen Bakery. The Virginia Distillery Co. sold more at the Crozet Market than they’d ever sold in their tasting room, Powers said. 

The tank room at Starr Hill Brewery was transformed into a market place for the Crozet Chrismas Market, with dozens of smal vendors displaying gift items. Photo: Theresa Curry.

“We do want this to be an annual event,” Powers said. “We can’t do much about the parking, but we can advise people to walk here as much as possible.” The women would like to expand the event by inviting more businesses to either sponsor a feature of the market or to host a small vendor. “Even if a downtown store doesn’t sell traditional gifts, hosting a vendor draws in people who learn more about the business and perhaps see something to buy.”

They’re also considering extending the market for a second day, or planning a different festive event for the same weekend in 2023.

They’ll be collecting ideas and planning for next year in the months ahead. If you’d like to be involved, or have a suggestion, email [email protected] crozet.com

Grants Support Local Food Processing, Industrial Revitalization

A state funding program targeting Virginia’s food producers and processors has awarded Albemarle County $24,000 to buy grinding, vacuum packaging and freezing equipment. The equipment will allow Crozet’s Kelly Bronze Turkeys to add ground turkey to the existing product line of whole birds and bone-in breasts.

Kelly Bronze Turkeys specializes in wild-bred heritage turkeys, with main offices in England. Judd Culver established the American branch of the poultry operation in Crozet in 2015 and raises several thousand each year at his farm on Jarmans Gap Road.

A grant to Albemarle County will support processing of Kelly Bronze Turkeys, a Crozet business. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Another award will support apple processing in Nelson County. Along with the growing demand for hard cider products, orchardists there have seen an increased demand for fresh, sweet cider. To help meet the demand, the county was awarded $25,000 towards new processing equipment to be used by two apple orchards, Silver Creek and Seamans. The equipment will be housed in a packing shed owned by the orchards and will have the capability of processing most of the juice apples grown in Nelson County.

In a separate round of grants aimed at revitalizing former industrial centers, the state awarded the City of Waynesboro $400,000 to redevelop a former department store on Main Street. The former Hyman’s Department Store, built in 1959, will be transformed into a commercial center offering retail outlets, cafes, and studio space, and will create at least eight new jobs. The building is at 411 W. Main St. 

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