The idea of a “new downtown” in Crozet has been in the air for years. With the opening of Piedmont Place—a lively, mixed-use building just across the street from the Crozet Library—it is suddenly looking like a reality.
“My wife Michelle and I moved to Crozet in 2011,” says developer Drew Holzwarth, who manages residential development for Stanley Martin Homes. “I was worried that an out-of-town developer would put something ugly and cheap in the entrance to our new downtown.” After keeping their eye on the Library Avenue parcel for several years, the couple decided to develop it themselves as a residential/commercial venture. Architect Bob Anderson, who’d been associated with the site during a previous effort that ultimately went unbuilt, designed the four-level building.
With six apartments and eight businesses, Piedmont Place is meant to be, as Holzwarth says, “a vibrant place 24/7.” It has a long, narrow profile, and its lowest level is deeply set into the sloping site, so it doesn’t appear oversized. But Anderson’s design packs in a number of different functions, aiming for a sense of urban density that will bring residents, workers and customers together for a communal experience.
That’s not to say anyone should feel crowded. Anderson went out of his way, for example, to protect residents of the two-bedroom apartments from the sounds and smells of the building’s restaurants. A ventilation system should ensure that fish taco smells won’t enter apartments (though their occupants may still want to run downstairs to Morsel Compass for the actual tacos).
Two of the building’s dining options—The Rooftop sky bar and Smoked Kitchen and Tap—are midsize, sit-down places. At Smoked, diners in red booths will order barbecue and beers in a space that’s easily accessible from the street. The Rooftop, meanwhile, requires a trip upstairs in the elevator but delivers jaw-dropping views, especially from its outdoor terrace. Anderson specified doors that can fold away to make a wide opening, connecting the terrace to the indoor seating.
The views, in fact, get pride of place just about everywhere. Two levels down from the sky bar is Piedmont Place Market, which Holzwarth says is “effectively, an incubator” for small-business entrepreneurs. A central corridor winds through a collection of food businesses—offering everything from beer to smoothies to ice cream—plus Over the Moon Bookstore.
This portion of the building exemplifies the busy, local feel of the entire project. Seating is tucked into various niches, plus an outdoor patio, but the best perches of all are in the southwest corner, where big windows offer a mountain vista. Building residents, too, drink in the views: Each apartment has its own balcony.
Anderson gave the building an exterior that nods to the library across the street. Stone clads the terrace level, and a solar field sits on the roof. A yoga studio occupies the rear terrace level.
It’s a place that could become personal to many folks, and it already is for Anderson. “I used to live in Crozet and still have a lot of connections here,” he says. “I have a personal interest in how it comes out.”