Cory Kuklick 0

Preserve the Culture of 181 North Main Street, Harrisonburg, VA

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The Blue Nile opened its doors at 181 North Main Street in April of 2008. In the six-and-a-half years the restaurant, bar and nightclub were open, it played host to thousands of artistic endeavors delivered through various modes of expression. For musicians, artists, poets, activists, dancers and the curious foodie, the Blue Nile was home base.

The Blue Nile was termed the “living room of Harrisonburg” because it served as a meeting ground for people of all walks of life looking to share their passions, creativity or their conversations. The Blue Nile was successful and loved because it used its business practices to constantly push forward the artistic culture of the city.

The Blue Nile’s mission statement focused on a perpetual and sustainable outlet for artistic thought and freedom for anybody looking to advance themselves and their sense of community. Emphasis was always placed on the act of expression. This philosophy was incorporated into the overall business plan and proved to be successful, allowing The Blue Nile to serve as creative hub for close to seven years.

Money collected at the door for musical acts was given back to the musicians who performed, allowing patrons to see live acts that otherwise would be too costly for a venue of that size. In addition to music, the basement also served as a frequent home for poetry readings, stand-up comedians, DJ sets, swap meets, art openings, rock lotto and more.

Despite the ebb and flow of the business and economic environment in Harrisonburg, one of the main constants has been the influx of creative thought from the youth demographic fostered by the city’s numerous colleges and universities. Within the last four years, the community’s population has grown by over 5%, with many young residents staying in the city to continue to pursue their artistic endeavors.

In the aftermath of the Blue Nile shutting its doors, local businesses such as Beyond, The Artful Dodger and Three Brothers Brewing have moved to fill the void left by the restaurant’s closure. The artistic scene and people who continue to cultivate it are eager to continue with their various projects. It is imperative, in order to keep Harrisonburg’s culture of art and music moving forward, to find a permanent space to host them.

As its own business entity with its own goals and objectives, we understand that Matchbox Realty will accommodate a tenant at 181 Main Street they believe best fits their own business model. However, as members of this town and permanent residents concerned with moving our progressive culture forward, we urge the company to consider the following:

· Installing a tenant committed to the city of Harrisonburg and the artistic culture it harbors

· Listening to the voices of the residents of Harrisonburg and their wishes about how best to utilize the space formerly occupied by the Blue Nile

· Allowing for a well thought out renovation of the space in order to ensure the quickest turnaround that benefits the landlord, tenant, and the city of Harrisonburg and its residents

· Allowing the culture of the Blue Nile – the sense of community it nurtured and the positive space it provided – to continue with the next tenant

The closing of the Blue Nile has created a void for the artistic and musical community of Harrisonburg, but it has also given the city an opportunity to dictate how to move forward at a critical juncture. We understand and appreciate Matchbox’s support of local business, and its endeavors to grow downtown. With your support and collaboration, we are confident that the future of the city and its residents can evolve in a direction that benefits all involved.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

For more information on what the Blue Nile meant to the town of Harrisonburg, please see Lurid Pictures' phenomenal short video at:

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