A New Look for an Old Downtown

Earlier today a family member sent me a link to Carlos Santos’ article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, “A New Look for an Old Downtown: Harrisonburg Hopes Development Will Foster Revitalization.” This article is referring to the $25 million Urban Exchange project one block east of court square.

According to Santos “Barry Kelley and Andrew Forward, developers who renovated the former Wetsel Seed Co. warehouse near downtown into 36 luxury apartments a couple of years ago, are partners in the mixed-used project…the Urban Exchange project will have 196 residential units, including condominiums and apartments, and about 12,000 square feet of commercial space that could include restaurants and apparel and coffee shops.”

City Council member Charles Chenault estimates the project could bring as many as 400 residents downtown, and the influx of people might attract more stores, restaurants, and residents.

Demolition of the site is scheduled to begin this week, and the project should be completed by spring 2009.

I think that this project is great for the Harrisonburg community because it will invigorate the revitalization process. These upscale, mixed-use apartment buildings are “all the rage” right now, and I think the Urban Exchange will attract more people to Downtown Harrisonburg. The only question is, what kind of people will it attract? Will it attract retired baby boomers that are looking to downsize their houses and settle in a close-knit, vibrant community? Or will it attract young urban professionals looking for a city-like environment (YUPpies)?

Downtown Harrisonburg needs both. The city needs baby boomers for wealth and stability, and it needs yuppies to attract commercial entities and economic opportunities. In fact, Downtown Harrisonburg needs all types of people from different economic classes and racial backgrounds — diversity is the key to viable communities. But we’ll tackle this problem another time…

*FYI: I’m not using the term yuppie in a derogatory sense because I consider myself a FUTURE yuppie.

You can read more about Urban Exchange on HburgNews.com.


  1. finnegan

    I don’t know about that lead in the RTD.

    “After years of seeking to revitalize Harrisonburg’s faded downtown, city leaders hope a proposed $25 million development means success is on the horizon.”

    Makes it sound like H’burg is a deserted Mayberry.

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