What Businesses Should Come to Crozet?

by Jim on June 10, 2014

received these outstanding questions via email -

I would love for you to query Crozet residents on what kinds of businesses they think would:

1.            Be sources of livable wage employment in Crozet
2.            Act as a magnet for other businesses to locate nearby
3.            Or might develop a niche or theme (“X”) to attract similar businesses and customers and bring people to downtown Crozet because it is known for X.

I am looking for serious suggestions that consider the financial viability of those businesses being able to succeed and thrive and grow here.

Let’s think about these questions, and think about the actual viability of the businesses. I’d also suggest that we be open to larger employers, and understand that good growth is going to come to someone’s backyard. If you really don’t want it in your backyard, buy said yard. We do live in a growth area.

Update: good comments on the accompanying Facebook post. On a personal note, I’d say that anything we can do to dissuade homogenous chains (by encouraging locally owned small businesses) would be a million times better than the alternative.

We’ve had similar conversations before, but never been prodded to think about financial viability. Please do consider that whatever business you want needs to make a profit. These three posts have a lot of background and useful comments.

- What does Crozet need? (2007)

- What businesses does Crozet need? (2011)

- What do we want Crozet to be? (2013)

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  • Ron

    Jiffy Lube type place. Will all these housing developments, 2-3 cars per house, I think it would be great!

    • Ron

      *with* that is

    • Rob Gutkowski

      I don’t agree, here’s why: Most people do that sort of during or after work, in C-ville. While C-ville is a pain to drive into, Waynesboro is 15 minutes over the mountain, and much more convenient. Now, if we could attract some type of automotive support business, like a custom car builder, or a place that makes aftermarket parts, one that would possible hire a few CATEC grads and a few marketing and sales grads from UVA, that would be good.

      • Kelly Shifflett

        or a jiffy-lube-type place that’s open primarily late day/evenings and weekends for those who don’t like to do that during work, find it inconvenient to squeeze in work schedule, or would just rather support locally.

      • Lisa

        I hate having to go to C-ville or Waynesboro to get an inspection or car repair and love an auto business here in Crozet

  • dukenilnil

    I mentioned this on twitter, but I think Nest Realty would be a great company to relocate to Crozet. It is a local business, strong growth track, has career ladder jobs, and many of the employees, including the founder, live in Crozet. Being a relocation, it doesn’t create as many “new” jobs immediately, but it is a growing business that will be a steady source of jobs

  • Rich

    I see on the Facebook posts a lot of suggestions for commercial ventures (Restaurants, Gyms, Storefronts), but no industrial suggestions a’la ConAgra/Acme. When ConAgra closed, 639 people, most of them Crozet(or close) residents, lost their jobs. How many restaurants have to open to provide 600+ livable wage jobs?

    Let’s talk about how to attract emerging industries to the Crozet area. Solar Panel Assembly? Electric Car Batteries? Maybe a company that builds next-gen brewery equipment? I’d have to do a lot more research to find out what might work here, but the answer is definitely not another restaurant or little gym.

    • http://www.realcentralva.com/ Jim Duncan

      Yes. Thank you. Exactly.

      Mind if I share this on the facebook post?

      • Rich

        Please do! The more people thinking about these issues, the better.

    • Know the facts

      Rich,
      The Barnes Lumber property has the current zoning to do exactly what you suggest. The downtown master plan allows for what’s described as “Flex” space which would give a commercial developer wide latitude in the design/use of the land, not to mention the property could have railroad access. This is not to say the land couldn’t support multiple uses including those you suggest along with smaller businesses to bring additional good and services to Crozet. The downtown plan allows for the creation of apartments over the commercial adding a form of affordable housing. The only caveat in the plan language is an allowance for the development of residential housing along the borders that are adjacent to current neighborhoods to serve as a buffer. In the past that buffer area was maintained by the owner of Barnes Lumber. It should be mentioned that land zoned for the purposes you outlined is in very short supply in all of Albemarle County and Crozet is fortunate to have the Barnes Lumber and Acme property that allow for such commercial ventures. The question now is should we accept a plan which shows that 40 plus percent of the property is dedicated to residential development?

      • http://www.realcentralva.com/ Jim Duncan

        Great points, Know the Facts, but the initial post (and Rich’s comment, if I read it correctly) weren’t specifically about the Barnes Lumberyard but about Crozet as a whole.

        Yes, the lumberyard is part of the discussion, but not the point of the initial post.

        1. Be sources of livable wage employment in Crozet
        2. Act as a magnet for other businesses to locate nearby
        3. Or might develop a niche or theme (“X”) to attract similar businesses and customers and bring people to downtown Crozet because it is known for X.

        • Handsome and Wealthy!

          I am going to try the screenname idea as well.

          We’ll see tomorrow if there are results in the mirror and my bank account!

      • Rich

        Honestly I hadn’t even considered Barnes Lumber in my analysis, and was thinking primarily of the old Acme property. I haven’t been to any of the planning meetings, and have read little about the Barnes plan, but based on what I’ve heard, I’ve already written Barnes off as becoming a small strip-mall style “downtown” center with tons of residential space attached.

        Really given the current layout of Crozet, it wouldn’t make sense for Barnes to maintain as a large manufacturing location. But, I truly don’t think it makes much sense to dedicate so much of the property to residential development, given the amount of residential property already in the process of being developed. First let’s give people a reason to move here that isn’t just because it’s convenient to Charlottesville.

        • Rob Gutkowski

          As I and several other people have mentioned it in the meetings, the kind of residential housing Crozet needs, (as does the rest of the county) is apartments and other affordable housing. The median price for a house in the area is app. $278,000. Who can afford that at the beginning of their career? Unlike people who have nice big houses and big screen-equipped man caves and bonus rooms, People in apartments generally spend their socializing time out “on the town”. As a result, the town actually looks populated and vibrant after 5 PM and on weekends, and that attracts others to come see what’s going on. FarDowners, Mudhouse, the bands at the Southern Way Cafe, the crowds in Starr Hill all show that the Crozeti want places to go and things to do, and not just in summer.

  • Rob Gutkowski

    I posted this on FB as well:

    This county relies too much on retail, which is not a career or growth source for most employees, if most
    of your customers are the retail workers of those same stores, it’s a
    closed loop which doesn’t add dollars to the county’s income stream,
    just passes the same dollars between pockets. I would like to see the
    wood crafting shop that had to move when the Acme lot was cleared, and
    some other similar manufacturing of that sort, imagine if we had
    craftsmen and apprenticeships in Crozet. Also, we could continue to
    build on Crozet/Blue Ridge tourism but putting in a bike shop to take
    advantage of the cyclist that come through this area, and perhaps some
    enterprising outdoorsy types would open a gym with a climbing wall.
    WAHS uses the Beaver Creek reservoir for crew practice, how about a
    business related to kayaking or canoeing? We need to find businesses
    that are being priced out of NoVa and offer them an alternative. It
    seems to be working in Waynesboro. For that matter, how does the county
    perform business development? Do they have anyone actively looking for
    businesses, or do they wait for someone to contact the county?
    Fardowners and
    Mudhouse generally have a good crowd from opening to close throughout
    the week. the Crozeti want places to meet after hours, and not just in
    summertime, adults could use a pool hall or something similar, with
    beverages of choice. Mudhouse, on the other hand, has a lot of
    under-21′s who want a place away from the house to hang out (who didn’t
    at that age ?). So there are needs that could be met that would bring
    vibrancy back to the town center.

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