Downtown Harrisonburg is a dramatically different place today than it was more than a decade ago. Community members are investing in once vacant buildings; the steady and vigorous growth of historic renovation projects are attracting new businesses; and our strong community assets are receiving regional and national recognition. As local developer Barry Kelly states, “The heart of our city is beating vibrantly again.”
Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR) is a non-profit organization helping to lead this transformation. Revitalizing downtown into a vibrant and cultural city center is at the heart of our mission, and we strive to promote downtown through events, attractions, and awards that set us apart from other communities. To achieve this, HDR works in collaboration with public and private partners: government officials, businesses, property owners, residents, James Madison University and other key stakeholders to develop and implement a comprehensive vision and master plan that preserves downtown's historic charm while making it a destination for people to live, work, shop, dine, and play.
HDR was founded in 2003 after a proposal was presented to ban vehicular traffic and create a pedestrian mall in downtown's core. In response, the Harrisonburg community favored maintain existing streets, creating a vibrant pedestrian-friendly downtown, and forming a Main Street organization. One year later, in 2004, downtown Harrisonburg was designated an official "Virginia Main Street" community. The Main Street program is an initiative by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to promote the revitalization of small towns across the United States using a Four-Point Approach: organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring. HDR has integrated the Main Street Four-Point approach into our work and believes it is one of the keys to our downtown revitalization success story.
Downtown Harrisonburg is a dramatically different place today than it was more than a decade ago. Community members are investing in once vacant buildings; the steady and vigorous growth of historic renovation projects are attracting…