Downtown In the News

Downtown H’burg: Model for Development, or Gentrified Sprawl?

Last week was an interesting week for downtown in the news.  On Hburgnews.com, Thanh Dang invited readers to nominate development projects for the Valley Conservation Council’s Better Models for Development Awards.

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance board president Andy Perrine noted that the VCC’s principles of better development: conserve natural and scenic assets, maintain a clear edge, build livable communities, preserve historic resources, respect local character in new construction, and reduce the impact of the car – tenants by which HDR has long abided. The hburgnews post highlights four past awards present to Harrisonburg, all downtown: Court Square Theater, Liberty Park, the City Exchange and Walton Hotel.

In the same week, a letter to the editor of the Daily News-Record decried the Urban Exchange a “five-story monstrosity” and questioning the project’s role in downtown revitalization. As of today, 48 user comments have been generated in response by the realtor marketing the project, the original letter writer, our own Andy Perrine and the peanut gallery. With the exception of about three individuals, the majority have been supportive of the project to turn an abandoned car lot on Mason & E. Market Streets into a mixed-use residential and retail building.

Recognizing that there are many perspectives and ways of approaching downtown revitalization, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance is supportive of the Urban Exchange as a model of “building up, not out” and new construction that will enhance downtown’s character – an eclectic mix of historic and modern architecture. Downtown belongs to the people, and we are interested in hearing all the opinions that exist in our diverse community. Your thoughts?

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