Discover Downtown

Student Living Downtown at the Urban Exchange and in Old Town Harrisonburg

“It’s the first tomato at the farmer’s market. In the cup of coffee with a neighbor. In the brisk morning walk to the office. In the energy of a vibrant downtown community. The new Urban Exchange building lets you live your life right in the heart of it all,” says Urban Exchange’s website.

With Harrisonburg’s downtown scene expanding every year, so too are the housing options growing. Urban Exchange and a multitude of houses owned by private rental companies and owners are available to students who are looking for an authentic living experience that will put them right in the heart of Harrisonburg’s downtown district.

The beautiful Urban Exchange building in downtown Harrisonburg combines industrial design with primary color accents to create this sophisticated look. Photo courtesy of

The Urban Exchange building not only has a great downtown location, but was also constructed with green building principles and environmental sustainability in mind. By being constructed on an existing space, it did not necessitate further land, utility, or road development or the demolition of any historic structures.  In addition to its 194 condos and 12,000 square feet of retail space, Urban Exchange offers two levels of underground parking, storage for bicycles, charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles, easy access to public transportation, and is within close vicinity to downtown shops, restaurants, offices, and more!

James Madison University student Kelly Sykes is an Urban Exchange resident and says she loves living downtown. “Personally, being able to walk to restaurants and the farmer’s market is a huge reason why I chose to live here,” says Kelly. “I love the community and small town feel of living here. It reminds me that there’s so much to do outside of JMU! I wish more of our students were connecting with the community!”

Urban Exchange is a great place for students to live because of its prime location to campus and downtown. Photo courtesy of

Although Urban Exchange is becoming increasingly popular among the area’s college students and young professional population, there are also students who choose to live downtown in houses that line the borders of the downtown area in the neighborhood commonly referred to as “Old Town”. I talked with JMU student Lindsey Wall who lives in a house on Paul Street to learn about her experience living downtown.

Q: What do you like about living downtown?
A: I like living downtown because it is within easy walking distance to campus as well as restaurants and shops. The sidewalks and neighborhood areas also make walking easy. I feel more a part of a community, and it is really great having get-togethers with other houses.

Q: What challenges do you experience living downtown?
A: The house I live in requires a lot of maintenance work that I would not have if I lived in an apartment complex.

Q: What do you like about living in a house?
A: I like being able to live with eight other girls instead of narrowing it down to just three other girls (as most complexes have 4-bedroom apartments). It is great to have a big space with a kitchen, family room, our own bedrooms, porches, and a backyard.

Q: What would you say to encourage people to live downtown?
A: It is a great place to live if you want to get involved in the Harrisonburg community. The atmosphere is great, and there is always something going on.

Living downtown is a great option for students and young Harrisonburg professionals who are looking to be right in the heart of the growing downtown culture. Check out all of Harrisonburg’s downtown living options and discover downtown!

Kerri DeVries is the Visual + Social Media Intern for Spring 2012. She is a senior Media Arts & Design major at James Madison University.


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