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!
Are you interested helping to re-imagine what Grace Street might look like in an ideal context?
Join stakeholders from the community (residents, government, leaders, etc.) alongside JMU students, staff and faculty for the Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette.
Grace Street Project Community Design Charrette
Saturday, March 22, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Icehouse 2nd Floor Collaborative Space
217 S. Liberty Street, Harrisonburg, VA
You will be joining JMU's Systems Design & Placemaking Course and facilitator Lindsay Kinkade (Design RePublic) throughout the day in sharing ideas, telling stories, collaborating and having fun! Learn about the past, present and future of Grace Street. Brainstorm develop and rapid prototype design ideas.
Plus, a musical interlude and a chalk street stencil workshop!
Free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
For Information or to RSVP contact Audrey Barnes (email@example.com) or Elise Barrella (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Downtown Harrisonburg has seen some major growth over the past eight years and there are exciting projects on the horizon. Perhaps that's why Downtown Harrisonburg was recently featured in the national publication pictured above, Main Street Now. In fact, the magazine actually features a lengthy case study highlighting the successes in downtown Harrisonburg, with quotes from Eddie Bumbaugh, Barry Kelley, Andrew Forward and John Sallah....
Click here to download the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Main Street Now to read the full story about how Downtown Harrisonburg has been transformed in recent years.
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.
Collicello North is a new community being developed on the north end of Collicello Street (see map below) being developed as a smaller, more intimate and sustainable neighborhoods within walking distance of entertainment, recreation, shopping and public transportation.
Dean Weavers of Blue Ridge Architects explains his vision for the community:
Read more on the Blue Ridge Architects blog.
Aspen Heights LLC, is attempting to rezone a 23-acre parcel of land on Port Republic Road (shown above) for a gated, luxury community for students.
The city has some doubts, per the Daily News Record article, which seem to include the current glut of student housing in Harrisonburg, as well as the surrounding largely owner occupied neighborhoods.
Some of the student housing developments that Aspen Heights, LLC has built (yes, the photo above is a student housing development) seem quite nice. View photos of their communities, their current locations, and what they believe sets them apart as a student housing community.
This Tuesday there will be a Planning Commission meeting to discuss this potential rezoning.
In other related student housing news, you'll notice some new student housing popping up on Stone Spring Road near the RMH Wellness Center.
Rockingham County, Virginia (not including the City of Harrisonburg) is comprised of (approximately) 46,600 parcels of real estate. Some of these lots or tracts are very small, in towns such as Grottoes, Dayton or Elkton. Others are quite expansive and are in the far flung corners of the County. Below is a visual representation of the distribution of lot sizes of those 46,600 properties --- you might need to click on this link to view the full size document for easier reading.
Here's the summary:
Get up close and personal (thanks to unanticipated loud construction equipment) with Harrisonburg mayor Kai Degner, and hear about the upcoming Mayor's Sustainability Summit to be held in downtown Harrisonburg.
As Kai mentioned, the agenda for the Summit will be formed around the interests and desires of those in attendance, but may likely include topics such as:
Mayor's Sustainability Summit
Saturday, May 30, 2009
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Starting and ending in Court Square Theater
View more details by clicking here.
From Wikipedia: "Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl; and advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, mixed-use development with a range of housing choices.
Smart growth values long-range, regional considerations of sustainability over a short-term focus. Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health."
To summarize, Smart Growth is building in the right place:
Additional Smart Growth resources:
Well, perhaps we don't have to narrow it down with such extreme labels, but there has been some interesting debate over the subject over at hburgnews.com, all of which began with the issue of funding disappearing for the expansion of Port Republic Road.
Here are some of my thoughts, though I would love to hear other perspectives on the subject:
WHY GROWTH OCCURS:
Desirable area -> people want to live here -> they need a place to live -> many want to buy -> more homes are needed -> land is rezoned -> lots are developed -> houses are built.
While growth stems from a positive situation (an area being desirable), it is also true that:
But what is the alternative? To halt growth?
To do so, a locality would need to either:
Taking either of these steps would (in my opinion) have some rather negative consequences:
I have heard some people talk about development as if in the next few years, or decades, all of Rockingham County will be developed --- with the farm land destroyed, and our history no longer preserved.
Below I'll try to put that thought in the context of actual land use, but for the record --- I don't think many at today's Smart Growth Symposium thought that the above statement is true. (Lest anyone conclude that I am referring to any of the attendees).
The data above is extracted from the Rockingham County Comprehensive Plan, particularly page 18 of the section on Strategies, Policies and Actions.
Here's the full list of how Rockingham County land is being used:
Wow! Today's Smart Growth Symposium, orchestrated by the Shenandoah Valley Builders Association was a fantastic primer on growth issues and how to plan for them in the central Shenandoah Valley.
Stewart Schwartz, the Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, provided a great overview of smart growth principles and policies that provided a helpful framework for thinking about and planning for the future of our area.
One key point that he made, that stuck with me, was a need to focus on developing in the right place.
Those present included conservationists, builders, farmers, real estate agents, bankers, local planning staff, elected officials, engaged citizens, and more. There seemed to be a great desire for and capacity to consider working together for the best future for our valley, despite the varying perspectives each of us bring to the table.
The Shenandoah Valley Builders Association will hold a Smart Growth Symposium on Friday, February 22, with registration at 9:30 AM and finishing around 3:30 PM. This event will be an opportunity for members of the community to come together to learn about issues related to growth from a variety of perspectives, and to participate in a public conversation on the future of the Shenandoah Valley.
The schedule of speakers and topics is as follows:
10:00 AM - Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Addressing the topic, "The Smart Growth Option"
11:45 AM - Lunch served
12:30 PM - Question & Answer session for panel of guests:
Addressing the topic "What is a Comprehensive Plan?"
This should be an informative day with a variety of opinions and perspectives. The cost is $10 per person and includes lunch, and the deadline to RSVP is by Wednesday, February 20. Reservations and payment can be made online.
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