Looking to “ignite”

Apr. 26, 2013 @ 05:38 PM

Golden B restaurant customers have been brimming with ideas lately.
Take a look at a bulletin board inside the Uptowne High Point establishment, and you get a glimpse into what people are thinking about these days.
Owner Vickie Bocholis has been giving patrons cards to fill out that ask them to suggest something that High Point needs. The range of responses that are tacked to the board has been creative and revealing, she said.
“A lot of shopping malls, and stuff like that. Some funny ones too — a bigger Golden B, a casino. A fountain — I thought that was pretty neat, like a gathering place,” said Bocholis. “People are excited about the urban planner coming.”
The person to whom she referred is Andres Duany, an architect with Duany Plater-Zyberk (DPZ) of Miami, the firm that will take the responses from the Golden B cards and a mass of other information and design a “master plan for a vibrant center city for High Point.”
That’s how The City Project describes the goal of Duany and his team of urban planners, who will lead a series of charrettes May 8–15 to gather ideas from the public about the future growth of Uptowne, the downtown High Point Market district and the High Point University area.
The City Project raised the money for DPZ’s $410,000 fee from more than 100 donors. The City Council also contributed $50,000. City Project Chairman Aaron Clinard said Duany was chosen for a specific reason.
“People ask, ‘Why him?’ and the answer is that he is the best in the world at what he does. His track record speaks for itself. His firm has helped design and revitalize more than 300 communities around the world,” Clinard said.
Duany pioneered a planning philosophy known as New Urbanism, which advocates development that emphasizes walkability and mass transit rather than cars and highways.
Clinard said the firm has designed successful communities from scratch based on these principles, such as Seaside, Fla., and has applied them in established urban centers.
Locally, the goal of the project, which is referred to as “Ignite High Point,” is to foster a new, walkable urban core through economic development. The targeted area spans from the market district to Uptowne to High Point University.
Duany’s team will use the information from the charrettes to develop a master plan that describes the potential build-out of the three neighborhoods, incorporating building-floor and parking plans, as well as zoning regulations tailored to each area.
DPZ will also deliver an economic feasibility study that could show, for example, whether the local market would support a high-end grocery store like The Fresh Market.
Clinard said the process is dependent on public participation.
“We can do all of the pre-planning in the world, but we need a good cross section of High Point to give input into what you want in terms of shopping, entertainment, walkways, buildings and gathering spaces,” he said.
The public will have approximately 12 opportunities to participate and to hear from the experts about what they discovered during the charrettes. The dates, times, locations and subjects are being finalized.
The opening presentation for Ignite High Point is scheduled for May 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hayworth Fine Arts Center at High Point University.