Rosetta Stone Expansion

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

Despite the recession, an international business wants to bring 100 new jobs to the Valley, but it would like to buy a city-owned building to handle that growth.

The Harrisonburg City Council decided Tuesday night to sell the old police department building on South Liberty Street to Rosetta Stone, the language-learning software company.

For downtown business owners like Vivian Myers, the move is just fine.

"This would be an asset to all of us, and it would be an asset to me as a business owner. So, I would ask you to do this," says Myers.

Under the deal, Rosetta Stone says they'll create about 100 new jobs downtown. Economic Development Director Brian Shull says that was a key point in recommending the sale to the city.

"It's very important to us to create jobs, to create well-paying jobs. And, I think that's a very important point here, that all of these 100 jobs are averaging $50,000 or more," says Shull.

The city is selling the building to Rosetta Stone for $300,000. City Manager Kurt Hodgen says when they started negotiating, the building was assessed at just over $845,000.

"The main point is the property's been off the tax rolls for 25 years and will now be back on," says Hodgen.

Hodgen says the site had been studied as a possible place to expand the jail, but he says it's never been determined if that's the best site for that expansion.

"There's also no indication that the Commonwealth of Virginia is willing or able to afford its required 50 percent share of construction costs for an expanded facility at this time or at any time in the near future," says Hodgen.

Shawna Fowble, who works in human resources at Rosetta Stone, says the move was important since about a third of the company's employees, or about 450, work in Harrisonburg.

"Our employees love working in downtown Harrisonburg and supporting the local businesses of downtown Harrisonburg. And we really would love to continue to do so," says Fowble.

As part of this deal, Rosetta Stone says the company also make about $500,000 in improvements to the old building.

The city is committing to road improvement projects in this area as well. The deal will have to go through a second vote before it becomes final. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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