Public Input Meeting on Downtown Mixed-Use Area Plan
On Monday, July 31, the Planning & Development Department along with other City staff hosted a public input meeting about the Downtown Mixed-Use Area Plan. Nearly 200 people came to the YWCA to hear more about recommendations to guide the growth and redevelopment of the 131-acre area around the proposed multi-use stadium.
How Did We Get Here?
So let's back up a few years. In 2007, City Council adopted the Core City Plan, which recognized the need for two distinct downtown districts: market showrooms and a conventional downtown. Much of this 131-acre area was identified as the downtown mixed-use district, meaning that this is a good location for a traditional downtown - retail, office, services and residential properties that function year-round, and not just during the High Point Furniture Market.
The Core City Plan also talked about a need for a catalyst project to ignite the development needed to create this conventional downtown.
Catalyst: an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action (Merriam-Webster)
In 2016, City Council approved as one of its strategic goals, "create a downtown catalyst project that produces:
- 500 private sector jobs
- 15-20 new restaurants and shops
- 250 additional residential housing units
- A centralized gathering place"
Why Do We Need This?
Since 2008, the City's commercial tax base in this area lost $250 million in value, an 11.2% decline. Within the 131-acre area that the Mixed-Use Area Plan focuses on, 101 properties are designated as underutilized: vacant (43), parking lots (35) or undeveloped (23), a whopping 41% of the total properties in this land area.
By comparison, there are just three restaurants in the same section of town. The decline of property values in the Core means higher taxes for everyone in order to pay for vital City services, such as the police force. Until there is more development in this area, the decline will continue.
Why a Stadium? It's About More Than Just Sports
It was determined that the catalyst needed was a multi-use stadium. On April 3, 2017, City Council approved up to $15 million in spending to purchase the property needed and to design the stadium.
The multi-use stadium, home to an Atlantic League baseball team with the flexibility to host other sports such as football, soccer and lacrosse, would be the anchor of an 11.5-acre portion of the 131-acre mixed-use area. Samet Corporation would oversee the design and construction of the stadium, and the City will seek a master developer to work with other contractors in constructing residential units, a hotel and restaurants and retail properties.
But Wait, There's More
As you can see from the graphic above, also included around the stadium are a children's museum, park and event center. On May 17, 2017, High Point University President Nido Qubein announced that he and a board will raise the $38 million needed for these facilities by September 15, 2017. In addition, Qubein along with other investors will purchase ownership of the Atlantic League team as well as corporate naming rights.
Photo courtesy Laura Greene | High Point Enterprise
Back to the Mixed-Use Area Plan
So now that we've covered what the stadium area footprint will entail, what about the rest of the 131-acre mixed-use area? The land use concepts proposed in the plan are:
- Redevelop underutilized properties with three to five story mixed-use buildings (retail, restaurant, residential, office)
- Discourage surface parking lots and encourage parking decks to be incorporated with the use(s) they serve
- Rehabilitate and preserve structures in the Oakwood Street National Register Historic District
- Reuse existing buildings in the 100 block of Church Avenue
- Create public open space and pocket parks
Other recommendations are streetscapes including furnishings, trees, lighting and on-street parking, stormwater improvements and other infrastructure upgrades including water, sewer and electric.
Change Is Good
Returning to our catalyst definition, all of this would be significant change for the City of High Point. But change can be good, and this change is exciting. If we are unwilling to invest in ourselves, how can we expect others to invest in us? We understand that the City of High Point is here to serve its residents, and we have presented you with a lot of information here because we know you have been asking for it. We want to use this blog to be transparent and informative, as well as a source of open dialogue. The comment section here is just for that. If you are excited about this project, let us know. If you have concerns or complaints, let us know. What questions do you have? You can reach us here or through our Facebook and Twitter pages: @cityofhighpoint. To post a comment here, please click the link below and you will be asked to create an account. Comments will be moderated, so no profanity or personal attacks will be posted. We will continue to update this blog with more information on topics related to the stadium project and downtown revitalization that you would like us to address. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!