2009 is going to be a hallmark year for downtown Harrisonburg. In no particular order, here is are some reasons why you will be excited to “Experience Downtown” this year:
- The Urban Exchange. Scheduled for completion in August, this mixed-use development on East Market Street will boast two levels of underground parking, 12,000 square feet of retail space and four levels of condominiums (both for sale and for lease).
- SHHH! A top-secret new construction project will bring big improvements somewhere in the Central Business District. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that an announcement can be made within the next month or so.
- More Renovations of Historic Buildings. New construction is exciting, but our history is truly the heart and soul of downtown Harrisonburg. Three ongoing renovation projects are scheduled to be completed this year:
- The Liskey Building. It’s hard to miss the major construction going on in this building on South Main Street, across from Dave’s Downtown Taverna. When finished, the building will have about five apartment units and two restaurants: Jack Browns Burger & Beer Joint facing Main Street, and Pennybackers, a family-friendly sandwich shop facing Water Street.
- The Wetsel Building. Look for Union Station to open in summer 2009, serving vintage food and local recipes in an historic atmosphere inspired by the 74-year-old building.
- The Old Spanky’s Building. We’ll need to find a new way of describing this building when it undergoes its makeover into an Asian fusion restaurant, spearheaded by the geniuses at Taste of Thai.
- Keeping the International Headquarters of Rosetta Stone Downtown. This “stone” is a jewel in the center of our downtown. We’re hopeful that negotiations between the City of Harrisonburg and the language software company will allow the company to keep their headquarters downtown. In the current economic climate, the prospect of being able to create an additional 100 jobs for local residents is extremely encouraging.
- A Downtown Grocery Store. We are optimistic that the Friendly City Food Coop will gain enough members in 2009 to be able to sign a lease. Many of HDR’s staff and members have already purchased shares to bring this cooperative grocery store downtown. Have you?
- Return of the Tour of Virginia. Here’s hoping that 2009 is the year that Tour of Virginia comes back to town. Assuming that a title sponsor can be secured, this year’s semi-professional bicycle race will take place exclusively in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Here are the proposed highlights:
- April 24: A time trial at James Madison University.
- April 25: The traditional criterion race circling downtown, with other possible events such as live music or a 5K race.
- April 26: Races from the Downtown Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market to Reddish Knob, with entries for professional riders and for the community (how cool would THAT be?)
- You. Today, we are seeing more foot traffic than ever, with more people like you discovering downtown Harrisonburg as THE destination to eat, work, live and play. We know that everyone will be more selective about where they spend their money in 2009, and we appreciate it even more when you choose to support the variety of local businesses downtown has to offer. Thank you.