Mixed Use Three Notch’d Center Coming to Rt. 240

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A rendering of the front of the proposed Three Notch’d Center, to be constructed on Rt. 240 in place of the Green Olive Tree and Crozet Laundromat

The county’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) conducted a preliminary architecture review at its February 5 meeting for the proposed Three Notch’d Center in Crozet—a 23,120- square-foot, two story mixed-use office and restaurant building. The building’s footprint will be 16,300 square feet with a 6,820 sf upper floor, and it will be constructed on Rt. 240 in the space where the Green Olive Tree thrift store and the Crozet Laundromat currently sit, adjacent to the Legacy Carwash.

The project has been a long time coming. The ARB approved plans for a large multi-tenant building on this site in 2009, and the car wash design was approved in 2013 and constructed in 2018. Three Notch’d Center’s design has been revised over the years and now must be re-approved due to changes to the building’s massing, parking, and parking area landscaping, in addition to several modified exterior design elements such as entry canopies and window glazing. 

Kevin Schafer, the Charlottesville studio director for the project’s design firm, Design Develop, said the structure is broken down into “five primary building forms, mostly brick, emphasizing the industrial brick warehouse typology [and using] metal trim and dark wood for an industrial aesthetic.” The design employs numerous large canopies to maintain flexibility for retail businesses of different sizes, along with varied roof lines and endcaps for restaurant use. A sidewalk will run along Rt. 240, so pedestrians from downtown Crozet or neighborhoods farther to the east may walk to the building’s stores.

A view of the rear entrance and parking area of the proposed Three Notch’d Center, to be constructed on Rt. 240 in place of the Green Olive Tree and Crozet Laundromat.

“What has changed in the past 15 years is how we use buildings in this post-Covid era,” said Schafer. “We’re starting to shift away from traditional two-story professional office buildings and to look toward destinations or experiential uses. That redesign has prompted some shifting of the footprint.” The building’s exact uses are not yet programmed into the space, but ARB members agreed that it is compatible with its surroundings, fits in with the industrial character of the site, and is in keeping with nearby buildings sited alongside an existing railway.

Board members discussed a concern that the building’s orientation, with parking and utilities to the rear, could lead storefronts facing the entrance corridor to develop a “back of building” appearance as patrons primarily use entrances behind the building from the parking area. Schafer explained that the heavily landscaped 30-foot building setback combined with a strong entrance corridor frontage and sidewalk will be welcoming to pedestrians. 

“As new neighborhoods continue to be developed to the east on Rt. 240 and as downtown continues to develop and grow to the west, the property owner feels strongly that this is going to become an important pedestrian connectivity route between those, and that planning for future connectivity as pedestrian infrastructure is added is smart,” said Schafer. “This is a preliminary presentation so we’re looking for comments at this stage. We will be coming back with a site plan in hand, but just wanted to make sure we are headed in right direction.”

The Green Olive Tree will be supplanted by the new building, and its staff has been looking for a space to relocate to for quite some time. “At this time, we don’t have anywhere to go,” said Green Olive Tree board member and shop volunteer Janet Martin. “We are following up on any leads that are given to us and hope one of them will work out. We would really hate to have to close up completely because we know there are many in the community who rely on us for clothing for their families. We’ll keep looking and trusting the Lord that there is a place somewhere for us.” 

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