Downtown Crozet will see three new businesses in the coming months.
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors recently approved leases for Staengl Engineering, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Crozet Artisan Depot.
Staengl Engineering, currently operating in the city’s Belmont neighborhood, will move its offices to the first floor of the new Crozet Library. The firm employs six people and specializes in green building and design.
The engineering firm will join Crozet Running in the new library, which moved into the space in the fall of 2013.
The former Crozet train depot and library, which has sat vacant since the new library was completed, will now be home to the Crozet Artisan Depot. The artisans will share the space with the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, which will open an office to provide information to visitors of western Albemarle.
The depot, built in 1923, served as the Crozet branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library from 1984 to 2013.
“This location will be a centerpiece of tourism, arts and community in Crozet,” said Lee Catlin, Albemarle’s assistant county executive for community relations. “There’s a neat synergy in that space.”
The visitors’ center is seen as a much needed amenity for the community’s visitors.
“We have so many outdoor assets out our back door,” Catlin said. “From the lakes and wineries to the Appalachian Trail and Shenandoah National Park, everything is accessible from western Albemarle County.”
Kathleen Mistry, an artist living in Crozet who specializes in paintings and jewelry, is one of seven artisans who co-own the Crozet Artisan Depot. She emphasized the importance of using the depot as a gathering place for local artists.
“We want to create a community for creative people in the area,” Mistry said. “There are so many people here doing this kind of work.”
The Crozet Artisan Depot will begin by showing the artwork of 20 to 25 local artisans, including works by the seven co-owners. The group also plans to host art and musical events in the space and might host workshops in partnership with the visitors’ center.
The Crozet Artisan Depot is planning a July 1 soft opening, with a grand opening to be held in the coming months.
Catlin said preserving the character and structure of the depot was important to the county and the community.
“In the selection process, we were looking for uses that would not damage or change the building or the historic character of the depot,” she said.
The combination of the visitors’ center and the artisan depot are seen as compatible uses that will both complement and highlight the historic charm of the train depot.
“We felt like this got us the most use out of space … by putting an artisans’ gallery and a visitors’ center together,” Catlin added. “We will be using the space in a way that fits its historic character.”
Mistry said she is looking forward to sharing the space with the visitors’ center, noting that she sees the partnership as a great way to build tourism in the area.
“I think people who are coming to the visitors’ center will be happy to see local artwork in the depot, too,” she said.
Tim Tolson, president of the Crozet Community Association, underlined the community’s support for the new arrivals.
“We want downtown Crozet to be a vital place to work, shop and live,” Tolson said. “I hope this is a catalyst to encourage other businesses and employment centers to come to Crozet.”
Tolson said he thinks the new businesses will be a great fit for downtown Crozet.
“The engineering firm is exactly the kind of thing we wanted to have happen [in the new library],” he said. “The depot uses are very appropriate for the historic space.”
A room in the rear of the depot will remain available as public meeting space in accordance with county policy.