Lifestyle

Get Involved with HDR!

Photo courtesy of the HDR photo archives.

“The transformation of downtown is directly related to the impact of the programs that HDR has launched
which have quickly drawn the support of the City Council, community leaders, and volunteers. We have an
incredible working relationship with the entire city structure which really makes a difference in the work
that can and does take place.”
Glenda Rooney, HDR Organization Committee Chair

Ever thought about aiding in the revitalization process of downtown Harrisonburg? Well, there are many ways you can make an impact!

Downtown Harrisonburg is a growing community with a vibrant group of over 300 downtown businesses, many of which are independent and locally-owned, as well as popular events for residents and visitors of all ages.

A busy morning at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of the HDR photo archives.

But this revitalization of downtown does not happen on its own – it relies on the hard work of our citizens, the dedication of volunteers, and the collaboration of many organizations. Membership in Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance supports the continued effort to revitalize downtown and create  a stronger and more beautiful community. With a strong downtown district, the community can now shop at locally-owned specialty stores, enjoy a diverse array of ethnic restaurants and eateries, live in upscale apartments, and work in renovated historic properties, all within walking distance of each other.

Small business owner Greer Johnson in her downtown boutique, Duo. Photo by Katie George.

Community members and visitors enjoy an outdoor concert on the historic Court Square. Photo by Allen Litten.

This continued growth is ongoing, and while there has been a significant amount of progress in these last ten years, there is much more to be done to continue facilitating a positive community and strong downtown area. HDR assists this growth by hosting events, promoting local businesses, and creating public places where people can gather.

As membership has grown so too has our programming. During the past ten years, HDR has implemented many projects, including:

  • Façade Enhancement Grants
  • Promotion of downtown to niche markets, such as Massanutten Resort and area lodging partners,  university students, families, and more
  • Production of downtown maps for the Visitors Center, event programs, and publications like the Shopping & Dining Guide
  • Do Downtown blog, promoting stories about downtown people and places
  • Valley Fourth (Annual Independence Day Celebration)
  • Taste of Downtown (Bi-annual Restaurant Week)
  • Celebration & Reception (Annual Report to the Community and Membership Drive)

The historic Walton Hotel was given new life as the Blue Nile, an Ethiopian restaurant, art gallery, and concert venue, and received an HDR Facade Enhancement Grant to assist in this transformation. Photos courtesy of the HDR photo archives.

Valley 4th, Harrisonburg’s Annual Independence Day Celebration, is a favorite event for all ages. Photo by Allen Litten.

“Clearly, the thriving downtown scene is the most obvious benefit [of HDR’s work]. But it’s the
behind-the-scenes work we accomplished early on that provides the most benefits. Establishing
downtown as a national historic district gave developers and property owners significant tax
incentives to locate and develop downtown. We also successfully proposed new and revised city
ordinances and zoning regulations that made downtown more attractive for businesses.”
– Andy Perrine, President of HDR’s Board of Directors

This past year, membership raised a total of more than $32,000 from over 230 members! Last year, we invited 70 new members to become a part of this revitalization of historic downtown Harrisonburg. For those of you who may not yet be members, there are several different levels at which you can join.

Benefits to becoming a member of HDR include:

    • Discounts on special downtown events
    • Listing on HDR’s website
    • Invitations to Celebration & Reception and Renaissance Night
    • Your donation may be tax deductible
    • Listing in HDR newsletter
    • Advance notice of downtown events and proposed projects
    • Business discounts on HDR promotions, ads, and training

Guests greet each other at Renaissance Night. Photo courtesy of the HDR archives.

We are always looking for new members, so please spread the word and continue to enjoy everything downtown Harrisonburg has to offer!

Tom Simpson is a writing intern at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and a senior Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communications major at James Madison University.

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