Changing Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg was named for Thomas Harrison (17...

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New nominees breathing life into downtown

Recently,  John Noftsinger (’85), vice provost of research and public service at JMU, nominated two alumni, Barry Kelley (’83) and Andrew Forward (’86). These two have been making huge changes in the culture of downtown Harrisonburg, and are vitally important to the city’s renaissance. Here’s what Noftsinger has to say about Barry Kelley and Andrew Forward.

Recognizing the need for unique living spaces in downtown Harrisonburg, Barry Kelley and Andrew Forward seized the opportunity to renovate an existing structure, the Wetsel Seed Co. building into City Exchange, a mixed use property with loft apartments and a restaurant. Projects like this maintain the historic character of the Harrisonburg Downtown Historic District and contribute to environmental stewardship by re-using materials and not contributing to landfills when demolition takes place.

Barry and Andrew then targeted an abandoned used car lot in the heart of downtown Harrisonburg for a much larger housing vision called Urban Exchange.  Urban Exchange provides extensive living options for those seeking a downtown lifestyle, and is a model of green building, evidenced by two underground parking levels to minimize parking sprawl, energy efficient windows, appliances and a/c, recycling chutes and plug ins for electric vehicles.

These two have embodied Be the Change right here in Harrisonburg, and in doing so have changed the face of the community for the better, along with the skyline.

In addition to these nominations, Lisa Ha (’04, ’10M), marketing program coordinator for JMU, nominated Eddie Bumbaugh (’73), executive director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.

Here’s what Lisa has to say : A JMU grad and lifelong area resident, Eddie has been making a difference in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County for more than three decades. Since 2004, he has served as Executive Director of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, a non-profit organization working to revitalize downtown Harrisonburg into a vital, prosperous city center.

Many agree with Lisa’s assessment, including Glenda Rooney, now retired as assistant to the provost for academic affairs, who says, “When the City of Harrisonburg decided that Eddie Bumbaugh was the person to lead the revitalization of downtown, it was the wisest decision that could have been made.  Eddie is the guiding light for taking Harrisonburg back to the energetic city that it once was.”

If you’re an alum of JMU and haven’t been back to Harrisonburg for a while, you’re in for a treat. Thanks to these nominees and others including Be the Changer Lisa Shull, executive director of Harrisonburg Children’s Museum, Downtown Harrisonburg is a thriving and exciting place to live — and a great destination.

— Tyler McAvoy (’12), intern, JMU’s Be the Change office.

For more about the new downtown Harrisonburg, check out this link:


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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