Research continues on the Downtown Harrisonburg 2040 project


HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – What do the friendly city dwellers want downtown to look like in 2040? This is the question that the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR) asked itself to guide its Dream Downtown project.

Now, work continues before the recommendations are made to the HDR.

In May, hundreds of responses were gathered through an interactive map where people could identify particular places, ideas and issues in downtown Harrisonburg.

Anonymous people who make a living from work in Harrisonburg have listed their favorite places to eat, shop and socialize. They also plotted dots on the map indicating “horrors” or their ideas for busy intersections, parking lots and vacant buildings.

“As we analyze the data, key themes start to emerge and this is really helpful for us in identifying the topics that this plan needs to address head-on as an organizational framework,” Mindy Watts, AICP and director with Interface Studio, said.

Interface Studio is an urban planning and urban design group that helps communities large and small to reflect on where they are today, what they would like to become and the steps needed to get there.

Watts said he also spoke with more than 40 people outside of the downtown scene.

“Business owners, residents, developers, investors, elected officials, neighborhood leaders,” she said.

Watts said a remarkable suggestion from the map made the city center a safer area for pedestrians, for example, by creating pedestrian-only walking zones.

“As we have more places, residents and things that make people spend more time downtown, we need this infrastructure for people to be able to move around the city,” Watts said.

The Downtown 2040 Steering Committee and Planning Team are ready to share some strategies for the future and need your input at these upcoming pop-up events:

  • Happy Hour Evening: Friday July 23 at the Pale Fire Brewing roundabout with live music and Ice Cream Branches
  • Morning Brunch Hour session: Saturday July 24 in front of the Magpie Diner
  • Community Coffee Time noon session: Sunday July 25 at Court Square, east side of the courthouse.

The exact times for these events will soon be listed on the downtown events calendar. If you are unable to do so or prefer to engage online, a link to the interactive virtual version of Dream Downtown events will be shared in the future.

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