Peach Grove Development Project

Every time I pass the empty field between the South View apartments and Food Lion I wonder what the future holds for that lot. Last spring I saw bulldozers plow the field’s vegetation, and I thought that someone was preparing to develop the area. However, there has been little activity over the past year. Therefore, I decided that I would give two cents, and act as the developer.

I’m unaware of the field’s current zoning ordinances, but I can imagine that the area is zoned as a residential lot. Ignoring the lot’s zoning regulations, I propose to build a mixed-use development on the 15 acre site.
(Red = Residential; Gray = roads; Light Gray = Parking; Blue = Commercial; Purple = Mixed-use; Green = Public Park)

*I’ll point out that I used an old aerial photograph for this drawing, and Holtzman Express and McDonald’s do not appear on the image.

My mixed-use development will feature…

  • Mixed-use buildings
    • Retail shops (community & chains)
    • Restaurants/bars (community & chains)
    • Office space
    • Affordable apartments
  • Row houses
  • Open community space
  • Pedestrian friendly sidewalks

I will make a concerted effort to connect the development to the current neighborhoods, entice local businesses to inhabit the buildings, provide affordable housing, and design buildings similar to Harrisonburg’s downtown district (Georgian/Victorian architecture). I don’t think that families and older couples would want to live in this community because of the proximity to JMU apartments, so I would market the area to current college students, young adults, and “trendy” artisans.

The bottom level of the buildings would host the businesses, and the upper floors would be used for office or apartment space. I would prefer that local businesses settle in the mixed-use development, but it may be hard to keep chains from inhabiting the area.

Businesses I could see in the development
-Convenience store
-Coffee Shop (e.g. Daily Grind, Starbucks)
-Movie theatre
-Copy/Print/Mailing store (e.g. Fedex Kinkos/UPS)
-Barber shop
-Pet shop
-Liquor store
-Ice cream shop
-Organic foods market
-Book store
-Clothing boutique

Parking Solutions
-On-street parallel parking
-Open parking at Food Lion lot
-Open parking in lot facing Peach Grove Avenue
-Private lots behind buildings for apartment/row house residents

Even though I do not like parking lots, I decided to place one on Peach Grove Avenue because I don’t think any of the buildings should face this road. Peach Grove is a 25 mph street, however the road does not feel like a 25 mph road — it’s wide, surrounded by empty space, and straight. As a result many drivers treat it as a drag strip. This is a problem for my mixed-use development because I would like to place buildings and parallel parking spots on Peach Grove Avenue, but I don’t think people would feel safe walking/parking on this road. Additionally, the buildings would be facing an unattractive carpet store, pre-school, and open field.

Other Potential Problems
-Views of the backside buildings (McDonald’s, Holtzman Express, Food Lion)
-Infrastructure costs (sewer, electricity, roads)
-Stigma associated with living near college students
-Apartments’ property lines (Deer Run, South View)
-The area’s topography and soil

Personally, I think that such a community would be fun to live in because you and your friends could walk/bike to the area and eat, shop, and bar hop. The site is located near South View, Fox Hills, the Commons, and Ashby, so there is a large consumer group to pull from. If this development were prosperous, then the other field across from it on Peach Grove Avenue might attract developers and turn into another mixed-use community.


  1. finnegan

    I’m not 100 percent sure, but I think JMU owns that land. There is currently a battle raging between JMU and Confederate preservationists as to the fate of the Ashby battlefield.

  2. Corbin

    I think you’re referring to the field at the intersection of Neff Avenue and Port Republic. JMU recently purchased the remaining acres that were owned by private landowners, and I’ve heard that the University plans on building intramural athletic fields.

    I know the Turner Ashby Monument is located in the woods next to the field, but I’m not sure how JMU plans on preserving the history of the site. Certainly, I would hope that JMU makes an effort to preserve and embrace this historical site.

  3. finnegan

    Oh, I see the one you’re talking about now. I didn’t recognize the land from the tops of the buildings.

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