A Christmas Day water main break in a third-floor suite at Piedmont Place caused water to spill through the lower floors, shutting down the business and causing extensive damage to inventory and equipment. “Because of the holiday, no one was in the building except for one tenant on the fourth floor, above the leak,” said owner Andrew Baldwin, “so it wasn’t detected right away, and it was dripping for quite some time before the alarm went off.” Despite the extremely cold weather recorded that day, the leak was not related to pipe freezing and thawing. Instead, the plug on the third floor water supply in an unoccupied apartment broke.
Baldwin said his initial assessment of the damage was much worse than a subsequent inspection revealed. “The damage turned out to be mostly cosmetic,” he said. “We should rebuild the building in two, maybe three months.” He expected a seven-figure repair price and up to a year of downtime when he first arrived on the scene, but with the water gone, he was glad to have minimized the damage. “It’s a really well-built structure, with everything in concrete. The repairs will mainly concern the damaged drywall.” He said he expects to be in close contact with residents as they all get a better idea of how to move forward.
John Fontaine of Newtown Fitness, which occupies part of the lower level of the building on Library Avenue in downtown Crozet, said Baldwin notified residents on Christmas afternoon that firefighters responded to the building’s alarm system, found the fault, shut off the power, and taped off the building. Fontaine noted that the timing of the closing was particularly unfortunate for his business. “People are most interested in coming to the gym in the first few months after the New Year.”
Baldwin said firefighters arrived immediately, and the Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office also responded quickly when firefighters had trouble shutting off the water supply to the building.
Piedmont Place features a collection of small businesses, with common space on the ground floor and luxury apartments above. It was originally developed by Drew Holzwarth and was the initial step in the redevelopment of the former Barnes Lumber site. 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 businesses in Piedmont Place are operator-owned small businesses, including The Blue Ridge Bottle Shop, Morsel Compass, Carolina Obanda Beauty, Newtown Fitness, Smoked Kitchen and Tap, Nest Realty office and Crozet Creamery.
Several businesses thanked the Crozet Volunteer Fire Company for their quick response on Christmas Day. While still trying to adjust to the sudden change in plans, there is some optimism about the future: “It certainly wasn’t how we expected to end Christmas, but thankfully the damage wasn’t as great as expected,” said Blue’s Jude Russell Ridge Bottle Shop. Businesses in Piedmont Place have received messages of support since the incident, she said. “Crozet is a really great community.”
Goal-oriented care at Skyline In-Home Services
In his 23 years of serving people with mental and physical disabilities, Tim Campbell has noticed that conventional care often lacks some important elements. “Typical community 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 type of service designed to benefit people who need care in their own homes but also want to improve their quality of life. “We have long conversations with potential clients and their families to achieve certain goals,” he said. They mutually agree on a vision that will include moving forward, whether it’s a better organized home, more social life, a healthy diet, an exercise routine, or some basic internet skills.
He gave the example of one client: “First we had to clean and declutter his home,” Campbell said. “Once we got it under control, we found some events that would make him leave the house to see other people and we arranged for a driver to take him there.” Campbell has set up the business to respond quickly to client needs, so it is not affiliated with any insurance company. “We want to make it possible for people to get to us without a lot of bureaucracy or delay.” His job type does not allow for hands-on care, but he can serve as a liaison between health care providers and notify families when medical needs arise. Skyline also offers meal preparation, medication reminders, nutritional counseling and stress management, all with the goal of helping clients learn to manage their own lives as independently as possible.
Service prices vary according to client needs, and those in the Crozet-Greenwood area are entitled to lower prices due to the shorter distance. The business is only a few months old, but Campbell hopes to welcome new clients and expand his staff early in the new year. Find out more; and contact Campbell through the website, skylineinhomeservices.com.
The first Crozet Christmas Fair attracted hundreds of people
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 at well-known downtown businesses for the 2022 holiday market. “We didn’t have any history to go by,” Powers said. “We didn’t know if 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 of which are handmade. They didn’t have to worry. Well before the noon kick-off, people poured into downtown Crozet, hoping to jump in for the day’s shopping or stop for a coffee at The Yellow Mug or Mudhouse, both hosts of small businesses.
Many stopped to thank the women for their idea: “One person said she’d never seen so many people on the street,” Powers said. “Another, who moved back here from DC, 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 the two market locations. “People also walked here from Old Trail and other neighborhoods. It’s really not that far.”
Sellers also expressed their gratitude. Rachel Willis of Cakes by Rachel, located in the Annex (next to Bluebird & Co.), sold out in minutes, and across town at the Starr Hill Tank, a hungry crowd devoured every crumb of cookies and cakes sold by Alexys Gray of the bakery Lex’s Kitchen. Virginia Distillery Co. she sold more at Crozet Market than she ever did at her tasting room, Powers said.
“We want to make this an annual event,” Powers said. “We can’t do much about 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 sponsor a market feature or to host a small vendor. “Even if a downtown store doesn’t sell traditional gifts, hosting a vendor attracts people who learn more about the business and maybe see something to buy.”
They are also considering extending the market for another day or planning a different festive event for the same weekend in 2023.
In the following months, they will gather ideas and plan for the next year. If you want to participate or have a suggestion, please send an email [email protected] crozet.com
Grants support local food processing, industrial revitalization
A state funding program targeting food producers and processors in Virginia awarded Albemarle County $24,000 to purchase milling, vacuum packaging and freezing equipment. The equipment will allow Crozet’s Kelly Bronze Turkeys to add ground turkey to its existing line of whole birds and bone-in breasts.
Kelly Bronze Turkeys specializes in wild-raised turkeys, based in England. Judd Culver established the US branch of the poultry business in Crozet in 2015 and raises several thousand a year at his farm on Jarmans Gap Road.
Another award will support apple processing in Nelson County. Along with the growing demand for hard cider products, fruit growers there have noticed an increased demand for fresh, sweet cider. To meet the demand, the county was awarded $25,000 for new processing equipment to be used by two apple orchards, Silver Creek and Seamans. The equipment will be located in a packing shed owned by the orchard and will have the ability to process most of the juice apples grown in Nelson County.
In a separate round of grants aimed at revitalizing former industrial hubs, 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 shopping center with retail shops, cafes and studio space and will create at least eight new jobs. The building is located at 411 W. Main St.