Staved off: Cracker Barrel bypasses Fifth Street
The red dirt out by the Holiday Inn on Fifth Street has recently been raising some eyebrows. But what won't be raised anytime soon is the developer's intended target: the combination southern foodery and gift shop concept that has over 600 locations in 42 states.
Roell, perhaps best known as the man proposing a Downtown Mall-sized complex in downtown Crozet, says he spent six months negotiating with Cracker Barrel and getting positive signals from County government before the company took a pass.
"We have locations in college towns across the country," says Cracker Barrel spokesperson Jeanne Ludington naming such celebrated cities as State College, Gainesville, Bloomington, and Madison. Home to Randolph College, Liberty University, and the appropriately named Lynchburg College, the Virginia college city of Lynchburg also has a Cracker Barrel.
While declining to reveal reasons for passing any particular site, Ludington noted such factors as visibility, access, pricing, and proximity to existing Cracker Barrels, of which Virginia currently has 31 including a pair in nearby Staunton and Waynesboro.
"It doesn't mean that won't ever come to Charlottesville," says Ludington, "but this time we decided not to come to that site."
As passing drivers have noticed, that site, consisting of about 3.5 acres, has recently had trees felled, with additional fill materials and infrastructure on the way.
"It does have great visibility and backs up to the interstate, and when it's filled, it will be level with Fifth Street," says Roell, noting that the site is part of a larger parcel he optioned from the Maine-based owner of the Holiday Inn.
The developer notes the property straddles Biscuit Run. That's the stream, not the proposed state park or the controversial corporate bail-out whose backers, incidentally, recently signaled a desire to put a shopping center nearby along the horse-shoe bend on Moore's Creek.
Roell says he finds the decision by Cracker Barrel short-sighted and mentions that he's delighted to field offers from other restaurant companies.
"Everyone on the south side of town," Roell says, "would love to have a restaurant."
–story updated 2:43pm February 24 to correct number of restaurants in Virginia and add Cracker Barrel's perspective (also: "Staved off" substituted for "Empty nest" as headline.)Read more on: cracker barrel