HARRISONBURG — Attention all cider lovers, a cidery is coming to Harrisonburg.
City Council approved a request for a special-use permit at its Tuesday meeting for Sage Bird LLC to open a hard cider facility and tasting room at 325 N. Liberty St.
Voting in favor was Mayor Deanna Reed, councilmen Richard Baugh, George Hirschmann and Chris Jones. Councilman Sal Romero was absent.
The property, which used to be a part of Big L Tire, is located in the B-1, Central Business District. To the west, the district is residential, the north includes more Central Business District and industrial property to the south.
In an interview Friday, Reed said she comes from the time when the Rockingham County Administration building was a shopping center.
“It just changed over time and we failed to revitalize the northern end of town,” she said. “It is time for us to make the north end just as energized as the rest of downtown.
Reed said anytime more business is brought into the city, it’s a good thing.
“I am excited about the north end because downtown doesn’t stop at court square,” she said. “We have a vibrant community on the north end that would enjoy more business near our community.”
The last business that opened in the north end of the city was Restless Moon Brewery, 120 W. Wolfe St., in February 2018, according to Michael Parks, Harrisonburg’s director of communications.
Baugh said in an interview Friday that the core downtown is so full that if one wants to still have a business in the downtown area, the only place to go is north.
“Present trends will continue until they don’t,” he said. “The natural progression is that these businesses are going to go here because that’s where there’s room.”
Sage Bird LLC is also leasing 335, 357 and 394 N. Liberty St. from property owners, Bismark LLC.
“This particular track had some appeal,” Baugh said regarding the property Sage Bird LLC leased out. “It’s a good size of land on both sides of the street so they can get creative with it.”
Reed said regardless of what other businesses are brought into the north end of the city in the future, she ultimately just wants to see the area be revitalized into excitement and energy.
Baugh said with the Central Business District, as long as the business isn’t mainly manufacturing “then you have the ability to choose housing, commercial, and we don’t attempt to mandate the ratio or balance between those things.”
The cidery will be required to have seven parking spaces, according to city documents. The applicant also anticipates having a front and back fenced-in patio, both including a tasting area.
The production side will operate from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and will bottle its own cider, according to presentation by Adam Fletcher, the city’s director of planning and community development.
“If I was king of the universe and waving the magic wand, I’d have general business commercial instead of just restaurants,” he said. “With this district, B-1, your options are pretty much wide open.”