City pledges $50,000 for Duany project

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 04:49 PM

A group that wants to see noted architect Andres Duany bring his revitalization concepts to High Point got some good news Thursday.
The City Council agreed to commit $50,000 to an effort being led by The City Project to hire new urbanism design firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. in Miami to construct a master plan that proponents hope will spark redevelopment in three major parts of High Point.
The City Project has raised about $376,600 in private donations toward the $450,000 it’s seeking to hire the firm and its consultants to develop plans for Uptowne, downtown/the High Point Market showroom district and the High Point University area.
City Manager Strib Boynton said $50,000 is available in the city’s reserves, and he recommended putting it toward the project to complement what the private sector has committed. It’s the first public funding pledged to date for the project.
“I think we need to be at the table,” Boynton said. “They’re going to need the money to complete the study. But also, more importantly, when it gets down to implementation, a lot of it’s going to fall back to the city working in partnership with the business community.”
Advocates argue that Duany has the top firm in his field and that his involvement in High Point will be a magnet for new investment. Their goal is to bring the firm to the city for a series of charrette workshops in May 2013 that will serve as the basis for the master plan, which would include information about the ideal ways each area could develop.
Duany’s firm is known for designing communities based on the philosophy of new urbanism — pedestrian-oriented development with neighborhoods that have mixtures of residential and commercial properties.
“We want to build back and get some life into this community and this area,” said Richard Wood, a member of The City Project board of directors. “Duany helped ignite all of us about the possibilities of High Point.”
City Project Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe said the city’s funding would bring the total amount pledged for the project to $426,600 — $123,675 of which has been collected. She said The City Project has a proposed $410,000 contract with Duany, but she estimates that an additional $40,000 to $50,000 will be needed to cover costs such as travel, lodging, food, studio rental and other reimbursable expenses for the firm and its consultants.
The project has drawn 93 contributors, including HPU, which has pledged to cover 25 percent of the total cost.
The City Project, created by the City Council in 2008 to implement the Core City Plan, receives city funding for Fuscoe’s salary and other expenses. Officials praised the organization’s efforts to raise private dollars for things like the Duany project and a facade grant program, which has spurred about $362,000 in investment by small businesses in the core city.
“The private citizens of this city are getting excited about this (master plan), and, I believe, now it’s time for both the city and the private sector to get real engaged in this and move forward,” said Guilford County Commissioner Bill Bencini, a former council member.