NEW: Hotel/Conference Center Proposal Appears Dead

Posted: June 17, 2014

HARRISONBURG — A deal is off for the hotel and conference center planned for South Main Street, officials say.

The James Madison University Foundation’s executive board no longer considers the project an active one, said Tom Schaeffer, the board's president. The board met this afternoon.

“It was the desire of the Foundation, if its costs could ultimately be recouped, to support the City, University and the private developer in the construction of a conference center designed to meet local needs,” he said in a statement. “It does not appear that such a plan can be agreed upon, so the Foundation will no longer consider this as an active project.” 

The developer, Paul Gladd, sought $10 million from the city for the conference center and would have funded the hotel for $30 million. The city would have reimbursed the JMU Foundation for building the conference center.

A public hearing was planned for one of the next two council meetings.

“I am devastated. I’m disappointed. Not just because of the deal itself, because I think the citizens of Harrisonburg are going to suffer the longer term effects of not going through with this project, particularly the business community,” Councilman Charles Chenault said.

Messages have been left for City Manager Kurt Hodgen. It’s unclear what led to talks falling apart.

Schaeffer would not comment on specifics of the deal.

Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or

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