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!
The Friendly City Food Co-op opened this week, and it is a fantastic addition to Downtown Harrisonburg! Learn a bit more with me via some excerpts from their web site:
What can I buy at the Friendly City Food Co-op?
The Friendly City features dry grocery, meat, produce, frozen food, dairy, a deli, a grab & go section, coffee and salad bar, and a cafe-style seating area.
I've heard there might be lots of local food at the co-op?
Indeed! Friendly City actively seeks out relationships with local farmers and producers to highlight a broad selection of natural, organic, and locally-produced food and products.
Why is it so exciting that downtown Harrisonburg now has a grocery store?
Over the past 10 (or so) years there have been major efforts to revitalize downtown Harrisonburg, which has lead to LOTS of places to eat, shop and live in downtown Harrisonburg. Despite this well rounded city center, however, the absence of a grocery store has been a limitation for those who wanted to be able to live, shop, eat and work downtown. In fact, when I was marketing Urban Exchange both for sale and for lease (now only for lease), a common question was whether there might ever a grocery store in downtown Harrisonburg.
Find out more about the Friendly City Food Co-op via their web site, or via Facebook or Twitter.
Less than a year ago (summer 2009) Urban Exchange opened its doors to the very first residents of this impressive new structure in downtown Harrisonburg. Urban Exchange features 194 apartments in studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom and loft configurations -- with over 45 different floor plans.
The big question that (nearly) everyone asked or wondered was whether there could really be several hundred people who wanted to live in downtown Harrisonburg. The results are in --- YES, there are a LOT of people who would like to live in downtown Harrisonburg!
A few quick updates, and then enjoy the photos below showing the final product:
If you have questions about Urban Exchange, feel free to call or e-mail Mary Messerley at 877-548-3831 or mary@LiveUE.com.
Of note -- only one of four retail spaces at Urban Exchange has been leased, but several spaces are still available. If you are interested in details, please contact Mike Hendricksen at 540-908-7528 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hardie Plank, corrugated metal, glass, bridges, lavish landscaping, seating areas, and more!
This glass encased corner includes the mail room, a reading room, the gym, and The Apex.
The west-facing side of Urban Exchange, visible from Main Street near Court Square.
Four floors of apartments joined by a landscaped courtyard over top of double volume retail space.
Western views along Water Street, looking out towards Rosetta Stone.
The exterior of your home could be built with so many different materials, for example: stucco, stone, wood, brick, aluminum, concrete, steel and fiber cement. That last one, fiber cement, is a vague and mysterious siding choice also referred to as HardiePlank siding, which has been around since the 1980's.
So, what exactly is HardiePlank siding?? First, HardiePlank siding is a fiber cement, made out of sand, water, cellulose wood fibers and cement. Its source materials and design provide it with a number of unique qualities that often interest homeowners....
HardiePlank comes in all sorts of colors and styles, and you'll start to see it on some newly built homes in this area, for example on the Paired Homes at The Glen at Cross Keys, on this EarthCraft home on Cottage Circle, on most of the homes at Preston Lake, and on Urban Exchange.
Check out these two stories about Urban Exchange that both hit the news today . . .
Downtown living: Urban Exchange sets a new course for Downtown Harrisonburg (The New Dominion)
Harrisonburg leaders have a vision for how to make their downtown thrive. Barry Kelley is helping bring that vision into a reality.
"I know downtown pretty well. And I thought this was the perfect area for the kind of project that we were thinking about doing," said Kelley, who with fellow property developer Andrew Forward has turned a Downtown Harrisonburg parcel that was most recently a used-car lot into a four-story, mixed-use architectural wonder called the Urban Exchange.
Read more here
Urban Jungle: Urban Exchange Home To City's First ‘Green' Roof (Daily News Record)
On East Market Street, amid the bustle of the city's downtown, a natural oasis has sprouted in perhaps the most unlikely of places.
Dozens of ginkgo and crape myrtle trees and a selection of native plants line a pathway, while benches offer a place for folks to enjoy the scenery.
It is not the city's latest pocket park. Instead, this organic retreat is located two floors up on the roof of the retail space and parking garage at Urban Exchange.
The architectural design of Urban Exchange is exciting, provocative and has received a lot of very positive feedback. Two key features (among many others) that seem to be universally appealing are the expansive landscaped courtyard and the large windows and doors allowing for loads of natural light. It is the unique "opposed L" design that allows for the natural light and the fantastic courtyard area --- and you might wonder how the developers stumbled upon such a great concept....
Several years ago, at the very start of the design process for Urban Exchange, the architects visited Harrisonburg to examine the site, and as a result, Philippe created the sketch below.
The architect and the developers then spent months creating a multitude of building styles and designs from which to choose --- but throughout the process, they kept returning to the very concept sketched out above.
This design allowed for more significant massing on the main streets (Mason, Market) --- the brick areas on the now complete building, and it allows for lots and lots of natural light through the multiple exposed faces of the building. And of course --- the primary colors of the bridges are now shining brightly in the sunlight, despite their position having been adjusted slightly from this original sketch.
As I have spoken with other architects, I have learned that it's not entirely uncommon for this to have happened --- for the very early inspiration to be the eventual reality. I suppose the accuracy of this early sketch to the final building is so fascinating because of the large size of this project and the long (multi-year) development process that is just now coming to a close.
Click here to view updated construction photos, showcasing the nearly-complete Urban Exchange! Both buildings (East and West) are now open, as of this pats Thursday.
Gym equipment will be delivered in the next few days, and the final construction details will be finalized.
To see the exciting developments at Urban Exchange for yourself, feel free to swing by our Leasing Center --- we're open nearly every day of the week from 12p - 5p. Or, call Mary to schedule at 877-548-3831.
Well, actually, I'm not --- but as each week passes, the number of people who can make that statement is growing as Urban Exchange residents move in.
More on that in a moment, but first, some very interesting historical context....
I referred to the Citywide Housing Analysis for Harrisonburg, Virginia a few weeks ago, and here are some additional excerpts from that 2005 report, related to downtown housing....
"Harrisonburg's Plan for Downtown (2002) targets professional households for an emergent downtown housing market, particularly young singles and couples without children that would find condominium and luxury rental apartments amenable in a high amenity/high access environment."
The growing number of people leasing apartments at Urban Exchange is showing that there is indeed an emergent (emerged?) downtown housing market.
"Demand at the luxury scale will remain latent until the downtown reaches a critical mass of new attractive but more modest units plus commercial and arts amenities."
Given the number of people leasing at the Urban Exchange (which are luxury apartments), I don't think we can describe the demand as latent anymore. So....does that mean that downtown Harrisonburg has reached a critical mass of commercial and arts amenities??
"With a modest beginning, and implementation of other downtown projects, the downtown should support 10 to 15 new upscale multi-family units annually over the next five years."
Admittedly, Urban Exchange is being developed at the tail end of the 2005-2010 time frame referenced here, but certainly the demand for downtown living was grossly underestimated in this 2005 report.
Urban Exchange is comprised of 96 apartments in the East Wing (roughly 90% leased to date), and 98 apartments in the West Wing (roughly 45% leased to date).
"According to the 2000 census, and documented in the Plan For Downtown, the downtown area contained 260 households with 590 residents."
Even aside from other recent downtown developments, Urban Exchange will contribute 194 households (75% increase), and the potential for 375 new residents (64% increase). So, your next question might be....
Who are all of these people deciding to live in downtown Harrisonburg??
We'll be working to answer that more thoroughly in the weeks to come, but here are some examples of the Urban Exchange tenants that we have met over the past week:
Construction is moving along steadily at Urban Exchange in downtown Harrisonburg. This exciting new mixed-use community will include 194 condos, two levels of structured parking, and approximately 12,000 square feet of retail space.
Over the past 16 months, we have been excited to see that people crossing nearly every demographic have interest in living at Urban Exchange. Those having committed to living at Urban Exchange span an age range of 20 to 80, and include retirees, young professionals, university faculty and staff, undergraduate and graduate students, families with children, employees of growing local companies such as Rosetta Stone, SRI, SI, RMH, and more.
Urban Exchange is comprised of two wings with approximately 100 condos in each, and when we broke ground in February 2008, we did so with the vision of selling the condos in the West Wing, and leasing them in the East Wing. This past week, however, we made the decision to lease all 194 condos instead of selling half of them --- primarily because of the significant changes in the condominium financing market that have taken place over the past 12 to 18 months.
The West Wing of Urban Exchange is comprised of 98 condos, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines dictate that 51% (soon to be 70%) of such condos must be owner-occupied in order for any purchaser to use a conventional mortgage for purchasing at Urban Exchange. Furthermore, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not allow loans to close on any condos until 51% of the condos are reserved.
Given these guidelines, we knew that it would be difficult to orchestrate the sale of 70 condos nearly simultaneously, but we were determined to attempt to do so. Unfortunately, a few timing and logistical factors conspired against us:
Given the vast, early demand from tenants to live in Urban Exchange, and the delayed, hesitant demand from buyers --- last week we decided to move forward with leasing all of the condos at Urban Exchange.
We have discussed this change at length with all of the buyers who had reservations at Urban Exchange, but we know that there were quite a few other prospective buyers who had not yet committed to purchase. If you are one such person, and are still excited about the possibility of buying a condo in downtown Harrisonburg, we'd like to stay in touch with you.
The developers of Urban Exchange own several other properties in downtown Harrisonburg where they will be developing condos after Urban Exchange is complete. The next two projects that they will be developing will be considerably smaller than Urban Exchange (15-25 units) and thus will be much more feasible for condo sales. In approximately six months we will be starting to hold focus groups with any such interested downtown condo buyers, as we begin the design and planning stages of these next projects. If you would like to know when these focus groups begin, please click here.
Thank you for your continued support of and excitement for Urban Exchange --- while the decision to lease all of the condos marks a slight change in direction, it will still be bringing dynamic change to our downtown district. In just over a month, the first residents will be moving into Urban Exchange, and as the next few months unfold, we will be building up to over 300 new residents of downtown Harrisonburg in an exciting and diverse community at Urban Exchange
If you have any questions about this change in direction at Urban Exchange, please contact me (Scott Rogers, 540-578-0102, scott@LiveUE.com), and if you have interest in further details on leasing a condo at Urban Exchange please contact Mary Messerly (540-421-9341, mary@LiveUE.com).
Construction at Urban Exchange is flying along quickly! In a mere 51 days, the first residents will be moving into these beautiful new condos in downtown Harrisonburg. Click on any of the photos below to view updated construction photos.
Find out more about Urban Exchange:
Just a few days ago, the third (blue) bridge was installed at Urban Exchange! Click here to view updated construction photos of the blue bridge and other exciting developments at Urban Exchange.
If you look through all of the photos you'll also notice:
Yellow, Red Bridge to be installed on Tuesday!
All day tomorrow (Monday) we'll be setting up a HUGE crane next to the Urban Exchange construction site. Then, on Tuesday between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. we'll be using the crane to (carefully, slowly) lift the red bridge and the yellow bridge over top of the East Wing, and down between the wings to span the courtyard area.
Feel free to drive by to see the action, or watch it live from across the street! Call me (540-578-0102) or e-mail me (email@example.com) with any questions.
Become a fan of Urban Exchange on Facebook!
Are you on Facebook? If so, become a fan of Urban Exchange --- click here to visit the Urban Exchange page on Facebook.
An Urban Exchange Marriage Proposal!
Congratulations to Bobby and Jenna on their engagement! Bobby proposed this weekend in the apartment at Urban Exchange where the couple will eventually be living --- after her surprise (Jenna thought she was just getting a tour of their apartment's progress) --- she said yes! Bobby is a chef at Eastern Mennonite University and Jenna is a graduate student. We wish Bobby and Jenna well, and are excited about the life they will share together at Urban Exchange!
Many thanks to Rebekah Girvan Budnikas, a top-notch local wedding and family photographer, who not only captured this special moment, but is also soon to be opening a high-end photography studio in downtown Harrisonburg!
Six Days to Bridge Installation
BREAKING NEWS --- the three bridges that will connect the two wings of Urban Exchange will be installed on Tuesday, March 10th, beginning at 8:00 a.m. We will be using an enormous crane to lift each section of the bridge up, and lower it into place between the two wings. We will certainly post photos of this exciting event online, but feel free to stop by to watch the action!
Work was completed this past weekend on the metal columns that will support the bridges. Click here to view these updated photos --- which also include a glimpse of some small bridge sections.
Classic Kitchens Prepares for Kitchen Installation
Class Kitchens now has all of the granite and cabinetry components in Harrisonburg for installation at Urban Exchange. Click here to view photos from the Classic Kitchens warehouse, where the kitchen components will be staged and partially fabricated before being brought to the Urban Exchange site.
Are you curious about the detailed specifications of the apartments and condos being built at Urban Exchange? We have now posted a list of specifications for the condos and apartments at Urban Exchange. Please let me know if you have any questions about these specifications.
Stay tuned for more exciting announcements about Urban Exchange in the coming weeks. For more information about the condos and apartments, feel free to reply to this e-mail, or call me at 540-578-0102. For all leasing matters, please call 540-421-9341 or e-mail info@LiveUE.com..
Construction is flying along at Urban Exchange (196 condos for sale and for lease in downtown Harrisonburg). Here are a few updates on the progress:
As the development of Urban Exchange progresses, I will be continuing to post interviews on the Urban Exchange web site to provide you with a glimpse into the excitement taking place in Downtown Harrisonburg.
To start off, take a few minutes to learn more about Urban Exchange via interviews with Barry Kelley (developer), Andrew Forward (developer) and Philippe Jentsch (architect).
Click on the photo above to view updated Urban Exchange construction photos, showing the dramatic progress that is taking place just one block from Court Square.
Also, if you'd like to take a tour of Urban Exchange, please either stop by during our office hours, or also feel free to call or e-mail to make an appointment to meet on site:
Are you interested in living in downtown Harrisonburg?
To view the prices/rates while exploring the floor plans, click here.
Check out the latest construction photos to see the progress at Urban Exchange.
East Tower Update
Framing is complete on the East Tower, which will house apartments for rent, and the roof is being constructed this week, as shown above.
West Tower Update
Most of the 2nd floor of the West Tower (condos for sale) has been framed, and over the next few weeks the final two floors will be completed.
Very soon you will be able to walk through any of the units in either tower to see the views, and get a feel for the layout.
Are you interested in living in downtown Harrisonburg?
To view the prices/rates while exploring the floor plans, click here.
Despite some rainy days in December (see above), construction is flying along at Urban Exchange --- framing for the fourth floor is being finished on the East Tower (apartments for rent), and the first floor is being framed on the West Tower (condos for sale).
Click here to see the latest construction photos of this exciting project in Downtown Harrisonburg, the future home of 196 condos, and 12,000 s.f. of retail space.
The framing is continuing at a rapid pace at Urban Exchange in downtown Harrisonburg, future home of 196 condos, and 12,000 s.f. of retail space. View more construction photos on the Urban Exchange web site.
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