As the former Ice House is making its way through large-scale renovations, the city of Harrisonburg is set to welcome the newly renovated complex by the end of the year.
The 80,000 sq. ft. building located on the corner of South Liberty Street and West Bruce Street was originally built for ice and cold storage in 1934. However, with the property being vacant for several years, both JMU and the Harrisonburg community realized that the location had much potential to become a hot spot for many local businesses, including restaurants, jewelers, breweries, and fitness studios. A section of the complex will also serve as housing for various departments of JMU, including communications, marketing, and public affairs. The university has already leased roughly 30,000 sq. ft. of the property and is planning to relocate many of the offices by the end of the semester.
Local developers Andrew Forward and Barry Kelley are serving as the masterminds behind the construction of the new complex. They have both previously played a part in the structuring of the Urban Exchange, City Exchange, and the Walton Hotel located in Downtown Harrisonburg.
This new vision for the Ice House Complex has become a reality mainly due to the historical tax credits and a $500,000 grant that Harrisonburg received from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Industrial Revitalization Fund. By the time the project is completed, the city is estimating the transformation to cost approximately $10 million.
In addition, the city of Harrisonburg and JMU are looking forward to the completion of the Ice House Complex as it will help to toughen the relationship and involvement between the two communities. Jonathan Alger, current president of JMU, sees the Ice House as just the beginning to deeper ties with the local community. In the future, President Alger hopes to see JMU be recognized on a national level as a university who greatly values the importance of community engagement.