The recent High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau board retreat resulted in an overall vision which involves a variety of organizations across the city working in unison. All of the partners and board members contributed to creating this vision. Not only were many of the ideas amazing, but they were truly beyond anyone’s expectations. We unveiled this vision at the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau Annual Appreciation Luncheon last month.
Just by way of explanation, the downtown is currently anchored by the only convention hotel in High Point, the Radisson Hotel, with 252 guest rooms and 12,500 square feet of meeting space. Within the core city there are several assets, in addition to the Radisson; the Train Depot, High Point Theatre, Theatre Art Galleries, Mendenhall Transportation Terminal, year-round furniture shopping and showrooms and High Point University. The downtown already has the infrastructure to build upon and become a year-round destination with feet on the street, spending money. And, this is what we all want to see happen in High Point.
You might not be aware of this, but we already have a significant number of these potential consumers coming very close to the downtown area every year. High Point sees about 150,000 visitors in the downtown area coming from High Point University, furniture shoppers coming to the fifty or so showrooms now open year-round, and other, more general visitors. These visitors also share a common demographic that is favorable. They are nice candidates for becoming those ‘feet on the street, spending consumers’. They are generally in the 25 to 65 age range with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more.
However, the problem is that High Point doesn’t capture these consumers in the core area because of a lack of infrastructure that appeals to them such as a wide selection of restaurants, hotels, retail, entertainment, etc. that is currently missing in that area. We know that most of these consumers can find those experiences in Greensboro, Winston-Salem or other surrounding areas while they are actually coming to High Point as the primary destination. The strategy that the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau and others have embraced revolves around providing new attractions in the downtown area within short walking distance of each other and the existing core assets such as the Radisson, the historic Train Depot, High Point Theatre, furniture showrooms open year-round and High Point University. This new plan centers on providing incentives to generate more developer investment in this area including Washington Street. The city is currently making street beautification improvements to that area.
The High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled several facets of the vision at the Annual Luncheon. These include: creating a new city section for restaurants, retail, coffee shops, bars, all types of store fronts that utilize street level properties that are currently open only during Furniture Market times. This area will be right across from the Radisson and will lead into to the area being called ‘The Pit’. The idea is that this area could be a common gathering space comparable to downtown Asheville or the Riverwalk area in San Antonio. The High Point CVB also supports the idea of creating a Design Center in the former G.E. Capital building, for consumers who come here to buy furnishings year round to provide a central area for them to get design ideas; The Lotus Stage, an idea from City Project, Ignite High Point and the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau Events Committee and endorsed by the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG), and a much needed multi-purpose Events Center. These elements would all be connected in the walkable experience of a close six block area.
The final piece of the vision includes a multipurpose stadium, accommodating not only baseball, but soccer, lacrosse, large concerts, and many other events year round. This idea from the Sports and Events Committees is to have the multi-purpose stadium serve as a convergence of two gateways into High Point from Kivett Drive (soon to be Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) from those coming in from I-85 and I-74, and Centennial Street from Eastchester Drive providing a great connector to north High Point. The new complex would be the new home of the HiToms, who would bring in more than 70,000 fans annually. Other events could bring another 70,000 to 80,000 attendees, which is ideal for its close proximity to downtown and other existing and new amenities and key to attracting new development in the area. This concept also bridges the gap between High Point University and the downtown area. The complex would also include several multi-purpose fields located deeper into the Washington Street area which would be perfect for bringing in youth and amateur sporting events to our city for tournaments. High Point then would have the potential for becoming a youth competition city, which would generate millions of dollars for the city annually.
High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau supports this idea because it builds on the existing venues, creates a unified downtown and is built on partnerships of many groups throughout the city. The High Point CVB has also organized a task force which has been endorsed by the city of High Point’s Prosperity and Livability Committee to begin the process of moving this vision forward and turning it into a reality. Stay tuned – good things are in store!