“Dear Harrisonburg,” – A Letter from Principal Broker and CEO Randy Harman

Special Interest — 5 Min Read

“Dear Harrisonburg,” – A Letter from Principal Broker and CEO, Randy Harman


October 7, 2019 — I would like to start a conversation about downtown Harrisonburg and our #IGNITEHarrisonburg initiative so we can #BetheBESTBurg we can be. My name is Randy Harman and I’m the Principal Broker and CEO of Harman Realty. I don’t normally like long wordy posts, but would you please indulge me? Give me just a few minutes of your time.


Dear Harrisonburg,

Harrisonburg Virginia is growing and thriving, there is no denying this fact. Our City has certainly been good to me both personally and professionally. I am proud to call it home. My questions are simple. When you think about our downtown, what are your thoughts? Does downtown revitalization mean tearing down buildings to make way for new ones, for example, the historic Denton building being sold for a jail expansion? Does it mean restoring and renovating historic buildings to their original grandeur? Do you like to visit our downtown? Do we need new services and options? Have you ever thought of turning Court Square into a pedestrian walking mall? Do we need more retail shops? More restaurants? More residential offerings? More office space? Parking? More frequent and varied street festivals? Are downtown rents too high or too low? When downtown businesses disappear because they couldn’t succeed is that sad to you, or is this simply an expression of our competitive American marketplace? When you think of dining out do you think of venturing downtown or do you head towards the East Market or Port Road areas?

This week as I was walking on the square my mind drifted to my summer vacation when I visited Seattle, WA and Victoria British Columbia. The flowers and art installations were stunning, and the street culture was amazing. People everywhere, music, art, food, architecture and ENERGY. The dramatic displays of flowers, landscaping and water fountains with seating and tables were in abundance. I found myself looking at the sidewalks and the green space around our beautiful courthouse building, one of my favorite buildings anywhere, and I wondered if we could do more to honor our amazing city in these ways.

Court Square is the heartbeat of our home, how can we take better care of it and make it shine? Thanks to Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, the water street alleyway has just been revived, it’s so much more inviting. Is this type of work to be done only by the private sector and non-profits or should these projects be spearheaded by the City itself? Maybe you think we have done enough; the City is starting the Main Street Streetscape project which seeks to make certain areas more walkable.

Charlottesville, Richmond, Wilmington, as well as many worldwide cities have turned these types of spaces into pedestrian walkways and have in turn created huge centers for cultural and economic growth. These areas have become destinations of interest and have added to the overall feeling of pride in one’s hometown. Should this be considered here in Harrisonburg? Who pays to maintain these areas? Instead of looking at the “why nots” maybe we should look at the “yes we can” and “how could we not” options. It’s easy to hope someone else will take up the cause and open the conversation, someone else will overcome the opposition and help focus the momentum. Harrisonburg is supposed to be the “Friendly City,” a tag line we all embrace. My question is simple. Is Harrisonburg as “friendly” as it needs to be, or could we be doing better?

Just some thoughts, I would love to hear yours. Also, check out Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. They are a great organization and work very hard on these as well as many other Harrisonburg initiatives.

Share this to your social media to keep the conversation moving. And remember to #IGNITEHarrisonburg, #DoitDifferently, #BetheBESTBurg and visit HarmanRealty.com to stay in touch with us. Thank you very much for your time and thoughts, you can contact me at Randy@HarmanRealty.com and 540.432.6552.

Be well Harrisonburg,

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