HARRISONBURG – Now with the city’s backing, architectural designs are ongoing for what is, unintentionally, one of Harrisonburg’s most colorful buildings: the former Cassco ice plant at 217 S. Liberty St.
After a joint public hearing Tuesday night, the Harrisonburg Planning Commission and City Council approved a rezoning request for the building, as well as the adjacent 115 W. Bruce St., which is home to Vision Technology Group.
It was an expected vote of approval for the estimated $10 million project transforming the ice plant into the “Ice House.” A mix of residential, commercial and office uses will occupy the 80,000-square-foot building when renovations are completed, possibly in 2014. Barry Kelley, a partner in the project and principal broker with Matchbox Realty and Management Services, said architects are drawing concepts for the Ice House, while demolition is ongoing inside the vacant building. Reddy Ice, Cassco’s parent company, shut down operations there at the end of 2004. The plant has since been decorated with graffiti inside and out. Kelley said developers were “still working on” what will go in the commercial space, though a restaurant, mint operation, yoga studio and more are expected. James Madison University has confirmed that it will move some offices there. A master plan is in the works for the building at 115 W. Bruce St., Kelley said. The rezoning request eliminates on-site parking proffers that were made on the property by a former development team, giving Kelley’s group permission for a larger build-out of the site. To ensure sufficient parking is available, developers have a comprehensive site plan for a 104-space parking lot on a parcel diagonally across West Bruce Street. That parcel now has a smaller parking lot. On-site spaces will also be available at the Ice House, but it’s not yet known how many. If a business must have on-site parking, it would likely seek a different location, city planner Adam Fletcher said. Kelley said historical tax credits will make the project viable. It will also be bolstered by a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Also Tuesday, council approved a rezoning request for 126 and 128 W. Bruce St., long-vacant properties that also have been targets of vandalism. Kelley is a partner in the development of those sites as well. About 12,000 square feet of office and retail space is available for lease. Kelley estimates the project to cost $600,000 and looks to rely on tax credits to help pay for it.
–Preston Knight, Daily News-Record, March 14, 2013