Harrisonburg Downtown 2040 Draft master plan presented to the community
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – What do friendly city dwellers want downtown to look like in 2040? After months of community engagement, friendly town residents finally got to hear ideas on how to help downtown Harrisonburg grow and prosper economically with the Interim Harrisonburg Downtown Master Plan 2040.
In May, hundreds of responses were gathered through an interactive map where people could identify specific places, ideas and issues in downtown Harrisonburg.
Anonymous people who live, work and socialize in Harrisonburg have provided their favorite places to eat, shop and socialize. They also plotted dots on the map, highlighting “horrors” or their ideas for busy intersections, parking lots and vacant buildings.
Then, in July, #DreamDowntown pop-up events were held downtown. These events included interactive maps asking people for their favorite downtown spots, and others asking you to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down for the things you see or want to see downtown, like works of art, parking lots, parks and green spaces.
Interface Studio is an urban planning and urban design group that helps communities large and small to think about where they are today, what they would like to become and the steps needed to get there. It took the responses and feedback from the community to come up with recommendations on how to move forward.
“As we analyze the data, key themes start to emerge and this is really helpful for us to identify the topics that this plan needs to address head-on as an organizing framework,” Mindy Watts, with Interface Studio, told WHSV in July.
Overall, more than 450 people contributed their ideas and comments to the master plan.
On Friday evening, these ideas were exhibited and presented under the Turner Pavilion.
Some of those recommendations included filling the void in downtown Harrisonburg with new developments and parks. A presentation from Interface Studio pointed out that parking is a third of the lot area in downtown, creating an uneven experience for pedestrians where some blocks are more interesting to navigate than others.
According to Interface Studio, two-thirds of the frontage of downtown Harrisonburg is currently “inactive,” which means empty storefronts, parking lots, white walls or empty lots.
Other recommendations included restoring Blacks Run into a community space and creating a ‘sense of arrival’ in downtown Harrisonburg by adding more artwork, green space and more. ‘landscaping.
Another idea is to transform Main Street and Liberty Street to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
When these ideas were presented, those present were then invited to give their opinion once more, for example on which ideas they felt should be given priority. Plans can be changed before the next step, which is to bring these ideas to Harrisonburg City Council.
“[City council] will be able to see the final blueprint for what Harrisonburg Downtown 2040 is like, ”said Brian Shull, director of economic development at Harrisonburg. “Then the board will decide what priorities it wants to see moving forward … What kind of a timeline … What kind of money we can put into it.” “
Shull said they will make adjustments and make these ideas to present to Harrisonburg City Council at its December meeting.
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