It’s amazing how much of a difference the look and feel of a building can have for a business. . . and a for a town!
We take it for granted all too often, but a well-designed building with an enjoyable atmosphere is a key component of a successful business. The building can be the factor that determines:
A town that has the right spaces available will attract exciting and innovative businesses. On the other hand, a street that looks downtrodden, depressing, and out of date is likely to stay that way! Who wants to begin an exciting new venture on “sad street?”
The Vibe Properties story is the tale of how one property company is creating great business spaces to spark incredible growth in the town of Front Royal. In 2019, Vibe Properties received the Urban Catalyst Award from the American Institute of Architects. This prestigious award is a testimony to the major improvements taking place in downtown Front Royal.
Want to know the fascinating story of a small town, a historic street, and a couple with energy and vision? Read on!
The Story of Vibe Properties and Main Street Front Royal
When Vibe Properties’ co-owners, Kerry and Tim Barnhart retired to Warren County, they quickly fell in love with the town of Front Royal. They soon noticed the unfulfilled potential of the downtown Main Street area. The street was quaint and centrally located. But rent rates in that part of town were low, scaring away possible investors. The atmosphere was decidedly neglected. The Barnharts were ready to take on the challenge. They founded Vibe Properties with a simple but compelling mission: to acquire buildings in downtown Front Royal. To turn these buildings into spaces that would attract new businesses. To breathe new life into a historic part of Front Royal. After only two years, the American Institute of Architects’ Urban Catalyst Award recognized that they had done just that.
Vibe Properties began in 2017, with the acquisition of two of Main Street’s historic buildings, the Weaver Building and the Barnhart Building. Over the next year and a half, the company undertook extensive renovations to the buildings to give them an inviting and interesting look while honoring their rich history.
The Weaver Building was built as a department store in the early 1900s. When Vibe Properties acquired the building, it stood empty. It got a newly designed store front and entryway. In the back of the building, exposed steel and large windows replaced a brick wall. The new design allowed for a more open feel with views onto a dinning terrace in the back, and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond.
Meanwhile, the Barnhart Building was a nondescript row of shops. Around a hundred years old, the building had seen many different uses over the years. Vibe Properties completely changed the façade, giving each business its own inviting and distinctive look. The company also made extensive changes to the interior of the building. Front Royal residents and visitors stopped walking straight past. It didn’t take long for the Barnhart Building to fill with exciting new businesses.
Vibe Properties: Catalyst for Change in Front Royal
The town of Front Royal is experiencing strong population growth. At the same time, thousands of visitors pass through every year. With its proximity to Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, and the Shenandoah River, Front Royal is ideally situated to attract hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts. But until recently, the historic center of Front Royal had little to offer. Residents routinely turned to neighboring towns for dining and shopping options. Visitors had little reason to stop by Main Street after a long day on the trails or the river.
Now, Main Street hosts the kind of businesses that were drawing Front Royal’s residents and visitors to other towns. The Weaver Building is the home of Try Thai Restaurant, and Inklings gift shop, and Wildfire Yoga.
Inklings is a locally owned business that offers soaps, candles, clothing, art, and other gifts. Try Thai has taken advantage of the newly designed space to offer indoor and outdoor dining in a beautiful setting offering amazing Thai Cuisine. Wildfire Yoga offers private, group, and virtual sessions in a variety of yoga styles, designed to improve body mechanics and daily life.
Cross the street to the Barnhart Building and you’ll find Mountain Trails, Down Home Comfort Bakery, the Front Royal Brewing Company, and ViNoVA Wine and Tapas. Down Home Comfort Bakery was located in the Barnhart building before its acquisition by Vibe Properties. Now, the shop has a completely redesigned exterior and interior. It looks and feels like just the kind of place you’d want to pick up a delicious home-made cake, pie, or treat. Mountain Trails is a new branch of the Winchester-based outdoor equipment company. And Vibrissa Beer (formerly Front Royal Brewing Company) extends into the back of the building, which has been redesigned to tastefully exhibit its origins as a turn-of-the-century parking garage. The feel is spacious, modern, and unique. Next door to the brewery, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas caters to wine lovers, and offers fun specials like the Midnight Snack, and Bottomless Paella Brunch.
Vibe Properties’ tenants have gone above and beyond to attract Front Royal’s “outdoorsy” visitors. Imagine arriving in Front Royal after several strenuous days (or weeks!) on the Appalachian Trail. Feel like cleaning up? The Barnhart building includes Basecamp Front Royal, a free service sponsored by Mountain Trails, the Front Royal Brewing Company, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas, and Down Home Comfort Bakery. Here, hikers can store gear in a secure locker, do laundry, and take a shower. After cleaning up, they can enjoy a craft beer and burger at the brewery. For those who prefer wine and tapas, ViNoVA is right next door. Desserts (or some treats to take on the trail) are at the Down Home Comfort Bakery. Any needed hiking gear can be found at Mountain Trails. Front Royal is no longer a neglected town to rush quickly past. It’s become the perfect haven for weary hikers.
A New Chapter for Front Royal
If you’ve been noticing that Front Royal has recently undergone significant improvement, it hasn’t just been your imagination. The achievements of Vibe Properties show what a creative vision and the courage to pursue it can accomplish in just a few short years. A new chapter has begun in Front Royal. And it couldn’t be more exciting.
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