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Crozet's largest retail property reopens after Christmas flood

After a devastating Christmas Day flood, Piedmont Place is back, and with it the hopes and dreams — or at least the appetites — of the Crozet community. Smoked Kitchen and Tap, the barbecue restaurant that anchors the building, reopened last month and instantly filled, according to co-owner Natalie Yancey.

“The place was packed,” Yancey told The Daily Progress. “We were running out of food every day.”

Yancey, who runs Smoked with her husband Jack, said that the dearth of nearby restaurants provided an opportunity to see some pent-up demand among hungry western Albemarle County residents.

“They would drive by every day for weeks while we were cleaning up and meeting with vendors,” said Yancey. “They’ve been chomping at the bit.”

Smoked’s reopening day was Aug. 9. That’s more than seven months after a frozen sprinkler head burst and flowed water through three of the structure’s four floors before anyone realized what had happened. According to building owner Andrew Baldwin, construction bills and lost rent revenue combined for an expensive accident.

“The claims are pushing $900,000 at this point,” Baldwin told The Daily Progress.

He credits his contractor, Nola Build, for getting the roughly 22,000-square-foot structure back in shape.

“They put the building back together in about six months, which is unbelievable since it was torn down to the studs,” said Baldwin.

While an ice cream shop called Crozet Creamery escaped the cascade and reopened in March, at least two entities did not return. One was an eatery called Morsel Compass, which closed due to a family move. The other was a branch office of Nest Realty, according to associate broker and partner Jim Duncan.

“We didn’t leave because of the flood,” Duncan told The Daily Progress. “We were not using the space efficiently.”

Duncan said that the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traffic patterns and lessened the need for office space.

“People come in there for ice cream but not for real estate advice,” said Duncan. “It just wasn’t worth it to reenergize that space.”

Taking Nest’s old turf is a new shop called Horse and Hen.

“It’s a farm market store,” according to owner Brittany Barnett.

The Crozet native said she envisions carrying area bounty including coffee, tea, gifts and flowers when she opens in mid- to late October.

“I’ve been a florist for about 15 years and will hopefully have flower delivery, but not right away,” she said. “Just a big emphasis on ecofriendly and supporting local businesses and growers.”

Another change is a new deli called Crozeli, and the gym called the Basement on the ground floor has changed ownership and concept.

But the most dramatic space may be the rooftop. For two years a private event space, the top floor and its outdoor terrace have recently reopened as Bar Botanical, the Crozet branch of a downtown Charlottesville vegan restaurant.

“Really, it was too good to pass up,” Bar Botanical production manager Martin O’Donnell told The Daily Progress as he looked out at the mountain panorama.

Such views are among the Crozet attractions that are about to herald the busy season, according to fellow restaurateur Yancey of Smoked.

“You’ve got your wineries and your weddings going on, and the leaves turn colors, and it just brings hordes of tourists into the area,” Yancey said. “It’s about to be crazy; it’s about to be insane.”

Building owner Baldwin is similarly optimistic.

“At the end of the day, we have a brand new building and everyone is up and running,” said Baldwin. “As much of a disaster as it was, it did work out for the building.”

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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