Downtown Nonprofit To Host Annual Celebration

Posted: February 13, 2014

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance will toast the past year’s successes while presenting upcoming plans and proposals when the nonprofit hosts the 11th annual Celebration and Reception from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 24 on the main level of Clementine.

The nonprofit organization works with public and private partners to revitalize downtown Harrisonburg.

The event will give individuals an opportunity to celebrate the downtown achievements, its progress to date, as well as offer an overview of new stores, restaurants and other projects expected to launch this year.

“The downtown of 2014 is very different from the downtown of 2003, which is when we first formed,” says Trisha Blosser, director of resources of HDR, while also touching on some of the achievements of reached in 2013, such as the opening of Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza in December, in addition to New Leaf Pastry Kitchen and the expansion of Dragonflies Toys, which took over the space that was formerly occupied by Whitesel Music Inc. on Main Street.

Those in attendance will also be given an update on the construction of The Ice House, a redevelopment project that will open next to the Daily News-Record building on South Liberty Street later in the year.
The multi-use building will include residential living spaces, as well as a new restaurant and children’s museum.

“James Madison University has moved some of their departments [into the building] already,” added Blosser. “This is a big, exciting project that should be completed in 2014.”

Design Excellence Awards
Eddie Bumbaugh, executive director of HDR, will conduct the night’s presentation, during which he will discuss the status of some ongoing projects, while recognizing several businesses and entities for efforts in helping renovate the downtown area through the design excellence awards.

“Our design committee selects the candidates each year,” explained Blosser, when expounding on the purpose of the awards.

“The committee highlights recent renovations or new constructions that really make an impact on downtown when it comes to the aesthetics, the beautification, or just making downtown a better place to work, live, and play in general.”

Last year, Ruby’s Lounge — Clementine’s basement bar — won the design excellence award for “outdoor innovation” for its outdoor patio renovations, while Larkin Arts won the award for “Creative Renovation” for remodeling a former JMU office space, creating its current location.

“We took out those office rooms and really opened the space up and made it cozy,” says Larkin Arts co-owner Valerie Smith, explaining the reason behind the award, while pointing out that the renovations included the installation of chandeliers, what she refers to as six “giant” windows and living room furniture.

“We look at [Larkin Arts] as not just our space, but as a space for the entire community to enjoy, and the reception has been fantastic, thus far.”

Refreshments will be provided through the two-hour celebration courtesy of Clementine.

“This is a gathering for a diverse crowd of people to come together and share in our successes,” adds Blosser, who has been a part of the HDR team since 2010.

“I’m anxious for [attendees] to see just how far we’ve come.”

For more information about the event, contact Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance at 432-8922.

Contact Matt Gonzales at 574-6265 or

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