Hotel Madison Project Appears to be Dead


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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The plan to build a hotel and conference center in downtown Harrisonburg appears to be dead as both city leaders and members of the JMU Foundation said they were not able to come to terms on an agreement.

Bill Wyatt, the associate director of communications at JMU, said it's too soon to know if the university would try to purse some form of the project on its own with a different plan.

Under the initial proposal, the hotel and conference center would have been on JMU land with the developer paying $30 million for the cost of the hotel and the JMU Foundation paying $10 million for the constructing the conference center.

The city would then pay the foundation back based on future tax revenues created by the new hotel and center, according the Harrisonburg City Council minutes.

Janice Fitzgerald, the owner of By the Side of the Road Inn & Cottages, said she didn't support the city's role in the plan and that's why she's glad to see it go down, at least for now.

"That should not be the role of government. We have a great economic development department, and their role is to help investors find ways and means to come to the city with commerce, not to be the source of the funding itself," said Fitzgerald.

She did say, however; she would be fine with it if the project was completely privately funded.

Harrisonburg City Councilman Charles Chenault didn't respond to a request for a comment Wednesday afternoon. Last week, he signed a resolution with the board of directors of the Downtown Renaissance which supported the idea for a variety of reasons, including that it would've been a tourism and business generator for the city.


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