Attention HT shoppers: Crozet store opens
An era ended in Crozet with the May 6 opening of a LEED-certified Harris Teeter, a symbol of the change in the western Albemarle village/designated growth area.
Great Eastern Managment Company has been trying to get a grocery built on the Route 250 site beside Blue Ridge Builders Supply since 1987, estimates principal Chuck Rotgin, no stranger to developments that take decades, like the company's North Pointe project.
Originally he and partner Don Wagner planned to build a Food Lion there. But as Crozet's demographics grew more upscale with fancy subdivisions like Old Trail and Grayrock, Food Lion was out and LEED-building, green-conscious Harris Teeter was in.
Wagner commends the strong support from the community in the western part of the county, and he remembers a petition drive against a grocery on Route 250 that gathered 167 signatures. Pro-grocery fans launched their own petition drive, and presented 1,387 signatures in favor of a new store to the Board of Supervisors, recounts Wagner.
The new market will use 50 percent less water than a typical Harris Teeter, and 25 percent less energy. And the store brings 60 new jobs.
Not all Crozetians are happy with their town's newest addition. Count author Marlene Condon among the unimpressed, for she sees the project as further evidence of Crozet trading in its own identity for that of its more cosmopolitan neighbor to the east.
"The only reason that Harris Teeter is coming into existence," Condon writes in a recent letter to the Crozet Gazette. "is to provide food for folks in the new developments–- mini-Charlottesvilles–- surrounding Crozet. Most, if not all of these residents probably shop now in Charlottesville because–- let's face it–- they are city folks, not country."
Despite such dissent, longtime owner of the property Preston Stallings is happy to finally have a tenant on the property, which includes an 11,000-square-foot retail office space and a soon-to-break-ground BB&T bank. "I told Chuck I'd like to have a little rent coming in during my lifetime," he says. "It's been 20-some years."
And Harris Teeter is fine with him, as long as it pays its rent.