City awaiting Duany report

Sep. 02, 2013 @ 09:06 PM

An urban architect’s vision for revitalizing High Point is almost ready for prime time.
The preliminary report from Andres Duany and his team of planners, engineers and other professionals is under review, with the group’s final master plan expected in a few weeks.
Many in High Point hope Duany’s recommendations will set the course for reviving three key areas of the city: Uptowne, the High Point University area and the furniture market district.
The City Project, the city-funded nonprofit that works to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods, hired Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk, or DPZ, to put together the master plan. The organization is making revisions to the first draft, which will be sent to Duany for incorporation into the final report.
“I think it’s pretty much what we’re looking for. There are a few things that they didn’t cover that we requested,” said Richard Wood, chairman of The City Project board of directors. “There are a few things we weren’t in agreement on, and we’re going back with him and saying, ‘How about this?’ But, I think all in all, it’s 95 percent of what we’re looking for.”
The City Project has a $410,000 contract with DPZ, most of which has been paid, Wood said. The final payment will be made once the master plan is delivered. Wood estimated this could be the middle to latter part of September.
The contract calls for Duany to make two more visits to High Point. Wood said the group hasn’t determined whether to have a public presentation of the final report similar to what was done last spring, when Duany presented his findings at HPU from several brainstorming sessions known as charrettes.
The City Project raised most of the contract amount from private sources. The city contributed $50,000.
The city already has moved forward with several of the ideas suggested during the charrettes:
• A redesigned roundabout at N. Lindsay Street, N. Elm Street, Hillcrest Drive and W. Parkway Avenue. The city changed its plans for this traffic-calming device under construction to make it more pedestrian friendly in response to suggestions from the DPZ team.
• Schematic drawings for how to create “an urban gathering spot for special events” in the area known as “the pit” — a former parking lot on W. High Avenue across from the High Point Depot. The City Council approved $15,000 to hire a local architect to come up with potential designs. A citizens committee is helping with possible uses for the site.
• The “High Point Crit Box at the Cycling Classic.” This was a model for possible uses for sea-cans, or shipping containers, on display at the Criterium bicycle races downtown in July. DPZ recommended using upfitted sea-cans to offer urban entrepreneurs a more affordable way to set up businesses, such as restaurants and boutique shops, than the investment required for permanent buildings.
• Further study of “dieting” a portion of N. Main Street to one lane of traffic in each direction to convert it from a thoroughfare to a “neighborhood street” and landscaping the area in front of the High Point Neal F. Austin Public Library into a public gathering place.