Welcome! This blog tracks the real estate market in the Central Shenandoah Valley, featuring market data and analysis, an exploration of common buying and selling questions, and candid commentary on all things real estate.
If you are interested in discussing any of the topics on this blog, or the details of your specific real estate situation, call or e-mail me!
JMU (the James Madison University Board of Visitors) recently closed on the purchase of a property on the corner of South Mason Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. This purchase included an unimproved parcel of land, as well as a parcel of land improved by the building pictured above.
The property that was recently purchased is situated between what used to be Rockingham Memorial Hospital (and is now the University Health Center, etc.) and a parcel of land on South Main Street owned by JMU that has been discussed as the potential site of a hotel and conference center ("Hotel Madison").
How can you know about these interesting property transfers?
To stay up to date on property transfers in this area, simply visit HarrisonburgPropertyTransfers.com and subscribe to the weekly email list to receive these updates.
A 205-room hotel and 21,000 SF conference center might be built on South Main Street between Grace Street and Cantrell Avenue through a public-private partnership. This $40 million project could result in over $1 million in tax revenues for the City during its first year of operations per a feasibility study recently provided to the City. The City of Harrisonburg is being asked to pay for $10 million of the project, which would cover the cost of the conference center. The developer would build the hotel and conference center on JMU-owned land in the location described and shown above.
As a side note, this is being described as a downtown hotel and conference center --- though the corner of Cantrell Avenue and South Main Street doesn't quite seem downtown to me --- or to the creators of the downtown maps.
Read more about this project....
Photo Source: Moseley Architects
I'm not sure if we call this on campus or off campus housing, but JMU is building a new residence hall on West Grace Street that will feature approximately 507 beds, various student life spaces, classrooms, seminar spaces, administrative offices, and other support spaces.
Read more via The Breeze here.
After several (very!) slow years of condo sales at Hunters Ridge, there has been a rush of sales this year --- 13 as of 11/13/2013. Prices have come down a bit further this year, to a median of $56,250.
Sales have also increased (slightly) at Camden Townes (Hunters Ridge Townhomes) -- and prices have started to tick upwards a bit to a median of $78,500.
Here is all of the data....
Search for properties for sale in... Hunters Ridge or Camden Townes.
JMU just published updated enrollment projections as recently approved by the State Council of High Education for Virginia.
There are plenty of different figures that can be used to understand JMU enrollment, but the most pertinent relative to our local housing market is the "Total On-Campus Headcount" as shown in the graph above. This figure is the best reflection of the number of students who will need housing, either on JMU campus, or off campus. These figures, and their changes over time, are the best numbers to be using when analyzing the need for off campus student housing in Harrisonburg.
First, as you can see, JMU is still growing and intends to keep growing for years to come. This is good in many ways for JMU, our local economy, our community, etc. The question that is of interest to me, however, is how this all relates to Harrisonburg's off campus student housing market.
A lots can happen in 5 short years (2008-2013)....
Over the past five years, there has been an increase of 1,445 students needing housing....and during the same time frame, housing was built for 3,792 additional students. This has led to a significant oversupply of student housing, with real world implications such as....
And yet, at the same time....
Why did it all happen?
So, we apparently have a tremendous oversupply of student housing in Harrisonburg -- many wonder why it happened. Read my theories here.
Given this new data (at the top of this post) about increases in JMU enrollment (Total On-Campus Headcount) what can we say or know about the future?
This is a lot of information -- if you have questions, feel free to email me at scott@HarrisonburgHousingToday.com.
You may have driven by this new complex (corner of Port Republic Road and Neff Avenue) but have you seen the full scope of it?
I had driven by University Park countless times, but until my son participated in a soccer camp earlier this month with Shenandaoh Valley United, I had never seen the facility in person.
This is an amazing multi-field complex, offering both grass and FieldTurf practice field as well as a finely-manicured game-playing surface of natural grass. JMU Women's Lacrosse, Women's Soccer, Men's Soccer and Women's Cross Country/Track & Field programs compete at this location.
Click here for a map of the complex.
Mark your calendars for August 10th from 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM when the JMU Surplus Property Sale will be taking place at the JMU Surplus Property Warehouse located at 1070 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg (former Shenandoah Manufacturing Plant, North End Dock Area).
All items are pre-priced and include projectors, appliances, LCD monitors, bikes, JMU sports and band apparel, sports bags, music keyboard, meat slicers, stainless steel fryers, dishes, televisions, cameras, DVD players, dorm beds, desks, tables, file cabinets, bookshelves, chairs, microscopes, lounge furniture, office supplies, map cabinet, lost-and-found items such as jewelry, iPods, sunglasses and much more.
Terms are cash, check or credit card with proper identification. All items are sold on "as is, where is" basis with no implied warranties of any kind given. All sales are final; no refunds. No preview date.
For additional information, call (540) 568-6931.
Local developers, Barry Kelley and Andrew Forward, are at it again -- transforming a downtown structure into an inspiring new space. Some of Barry and Andrew's past projects include City Exchange, Urban Exchange and The Walton Hotel.
VISION - Some of the ideas that have been discussed for The Ice House include:
LOCATION - The Ice House will be a transformation of the former Cassco ice plant located at 217 S. Liberty Street. As you can see, it's not a very exciting sight right now....
ZONING - The City of Harrisonburg has approved a rezoning request for 217 S. Liberty Street and the adjacent building, 115 W. Bruce Street.
HISTORICAL TAX CREDITS; GRANT - One of the only reasons that this project is able to move forward is because of the historical tax credits available for the project.
INDUSTRIAL REVITALIZATION FUND GRANT - Harrisonburg received a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development's Industrial Revitalization Fund. This grant is effectively a low-cost loan that will be available for the development of The Ice House.
COMMERCIAL TENANTS - Conversations are ongoing, but James Madison University has confirmed that they will occupy some of the space in The Ice House. One of the JMU offices that will relocate to The Ice House is communications, marketing and public affairs. Additional current plans for the commercial space include a restaurant, a mint operation and a yoga studio.
SCOPE, TIMING - The transformation of this 80,000 square foot building is estimated to cost $10 million and the aim is to have it substantially complete by the end of 2014.
STATUS - A detailed master plan is currently being developed to include 217 S. Liberty Street, 115 W. Bruce Street, as well as a 104-space parking lot on a parcel diagonally across West Bruce Street.
Source: Google Street View
Per the Daily News Record, JMU has announced that they will raze (remove, destroy, demolish) the former Rockingham Cooperative building shown above. This area will be coming surface level parking for now, though JMU will likely building something on it at some point in the future.
Source: Google Maps
The Rockingham Cooperative building (red "A" marker above) was purchased in 2010 as a natural fit into JMU's expanding campus. As shown above, it is a link between the former Harrisonburg High School building (labeled as Memorial Hall) and the remainder of the JMU campus (all shown in gold).
Read the Daily News Record article here.
The JMU Real Estate Foundation purchased a commercial building on University Boulevard that currently houses Tuesday Morning, Hair Works, and AllState. The building is located between Blue Ridge Hall and the Oriental Cafe (red marker on the map above) and you will note that this purchase expands JMU's southeastern corner a bit further towards the intersection of University Blvd and Reservoir Street.
The only remaining parcels on the corner are Sheetz, the shopping center containing The Oriential Cafe, and the Rescue Squad.
The lot and building were purchased for $1,250,000 and there no specific plans for the building or land at this time. JMU intends to continue leasing the property to the current tenants.
It seems (see above) that there are many more $300K-$400K home buyers in the market during the summer months than any other time of year.
And before you say this is just the normal seasonal trend for home sales, compare it to the overall market (below).
Perhaps the high buyer count in the summer for $300K-$400K range is related to incoming JMU professors?
I attended a fantastic event last night at the Forbes Center, the kickoff event of President Alger's Presidential Listening Tour. President Alger, JMU's new president, lead us through discussions on a series of topics including:
On a personal note, I graduated from JMU in 2000 and 2002, met my wife at JMU, and we decided to stay in Harrisonburg in part because of JMU's contribution to making this such a wonderful area to live and raise a family. My experience at JMU was transformative and has prepared me extraordinarily well for my life and work since graduation.
If you have the opportunity, attend one of the future listening tour events, or
submit your answer to "Why Madison?" online here.
Coldwell Banker Funkhouser Realtors' principal broker, Joe Funkhouser, was named the Rector of JMU's Board of Visitors last month -- a high honor for Mr. Funkhouser, and a great responsibility for providing leadership at James Madison University.
From today's Daily News Record article....
Funkhouser says his and the board's job lies in meeting state and federal educational goals, including turning out more graduates — especially in science, technology, engineering and math fields — and ensuring the accessibility and affordability of a JMU education. Boards of visitors at the state-run universities are responsible for approving budgets, policies and the schools' top administrators and faculty, and making other decisions affecting the schools' long-term direction.
Holding a leadership position is nothing new for Funkhouser, who has a breadth of experience on local, state and national boards, including the Virginia and National associations of Realtors, Rockingham Memorial Hospital board of directors, Harrisonburg Electric Commission, RMH Capital Campaign and Rockingham Heritage Bank Board.
He also served on the Virginia Real Estate Board from 1995 to 2003 and was reappointed by McDonnell to the board in 2010. Nearly seven of the first eight years Funkhouser served on that board were as chairman.
In 2009, Funkhouser was named the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year.
Read the entire article here.
Is it possible that values at Hunters Ridge have bottomed out and are on the rise? Don't read into the upswing too much, as there is only one data point for each property type so far this year --- but this will be a trend to continue to monitor.
View currently available condos and townhouses in Hunters Ridge.
After several years in a row of relatively similar sized classes of first year students at JMU, the first year headcount will jump up a bit this coming year, as shown above.
Despite this jump in first year students, the overall growth trajectory will stay relatively similar to what JMU has experienced over the past several years.
These increases in enrollment will (gradually) help the over-supplied student housing market in Harrisonburg. If you haven't heard, there are many more places for students to live than there are students. (read up here)
These increases are also (continued) great news for the local economy, as JMU is a major economic engine for the local economy -- as both students and faculty/staff live here, work here, spend here, etc. This is not, of course, to ignore the significant contributions made to our local economy by Bridgewater College, Eastern Mennonite University and Blue Ridge Community College.
The data for the graphs above is based on JMU's enrollment projections. "Total On-Campus Headcount" is the number of students who are taking classes on the JMU campus.
In my opinion, there is already more than enough college student in Harrisonburg. That said, a developer will soon be starting a new student housing complex on South Main Street near Valley Lanes.
So....maybe Harrisonburg needs a student housing moratorium?
Joe Fitzgerald states (at the link above) "We can't flat out ban student housing, but we can stop rezoning more land for it."
I never considered that a moratorium on rezoning could be enacted. Several questions then come to my mind....
Is local government overstepping its bounds to create such a moratorium (via *not* rezoning)?
Perhaps not --- local government wouldn't be prohibiting development, just the rezoning for development.
So, local government is now making rezoning decisions based on market conditions? Isn't a landowner entitled to make that part of the decision?
If a surplus of student housing creates a burden on the locality in some way (based on the new use or non-use of the old student housing??) then perhaps local government ought to factor in market conditions?
What does this sort of a moratorium look like?
Is this an unspoken stance of local government? Or a drafted and approved policy? Could this be challenged legally?
So, perhaps this all comes back to property owner rights?
Certainly, a property owner has the right to use or develop their property as the zoning ordinances allows them to do so. But does a property owner have any rights when it comes to rezoning? Are there reasonable, and unreasonable factors that can and cannot be used in a zoning decision?
Weight in if you have an opinion -- this raises more questions than answers for me.
(The Short Answer: No!) As reported by hburgnews a developer from Glen Allen is moving forward with a developing a community for 1,500 college students. Paul Riner astutely points out (WHSV) that it might be five to ten years before enough students exist at JMU for the community to be fully utilized.
Is there really too much student housing already built?
A few years ago, Harrisonburg created an incentive (with good intentions) for student housing developers to build now, now, now. Much of the land in the City that was annexed several decades ago was zoned R-3, which allowed (until recently) a property owner to build student housing (in the form of three-story apartment buildings) without asking for permission. Much of this R-3 land was adjacent to single family home neighborhoods, and thus Harrisonburg took this "use by right" out of the R-3 zoning classification. R-3 property owners were left with a three year window of time in which they could build this higher density housing (student housing) without asking for permission -- and thus the construction began!
Finally, here are some fun quotes out of the Daily News Record article of July 25, 2007:
"... James Madison University recently announced plans to increase enrollment by 4,100 students by 2013."
Total growth will probably end up being around 1,900 students.
"With the influx, we are going to need housing. We are going to need housing quickly."
Well, we have that new housing now -- but it turns out we don't need much of it!
Last week we explored who owns Harrisonburg, based on where those property owners currently live. Below are two additional slices of this data set --- exploring the top real estate owners in the City of Harrisonburg based on the number of parcels that they own, as well as the total acreage of the parcels that they own.
The top two in each category probably won't surprise you . . .
One significant note:
I did some basic grouping for the City of Harrisonburg and JMU to combine the parcels owned by each in different variations of their names. This analysis does not, however, account for the variety of other property owners that own property in slightly different names or under entirely different entity names.
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