Consultant: High Point must act on potential

Jan. 26—HIGH POINT — The founder of a Miami planning firm hired to help a local nonprofit with its mission to redevelop the city's historic industrial corridor sees a lot of potential in High Point.

Victor Dover, founding principal of Dover, Kohl & Partners, spoke to members of the Southwest Renewal Foundation and supporters Wednesday about how certain principles of urban planning and design could be put into practice in the city.

"We don't need to help you decide what to do, because you know what to do. We're here to help you visualize what you want," Dover said. "We don't want to be the place that just has a lot of potential; we want to act on that potential."

Dover and his firm have been hired by the foundation to consult on the plans and designs of some of the projects the nonprofit supports, including a planned 4-mile greenway loop through southwest High Point and such things as new parks and open spaces, improvements to infrastructure and more adaptive reuses of historic mills.

The foundation is using a $150,000 grant from Guilford County to hire Dover and his team.

He told the gathering Wednesday that he's been visiting different parts of the city with foundation Executive Director Dorothy Darr and others.

"Everywhere we looked, creativity abounds in this town," Dover said. "Design could be your competitive advantage. We saw people making things, the repurposing of spaces and land uses changing."

One thing he said he has noticed is that High Point has a lot of one-way streets. He authored a book called "Street Design: The Secret to Great Cities and Towns" that emphasizes things such as walkability and street trees.

"Street design is the one thing cities can't get wrong but most often do get wrong," he said.

He showed the audience examples of other cities that have repurposed former industrial properties into parks, greenways and open spaces.

"Why am I so convinced these things can make a difference in your town? I've seen it," he said.

Dover said the city is on the right track toward similar successes, with, for example, the first segment of the southwest greenway completed.

Dover and his design team will spend a week in High Point beginning in late February for a series of design workshops on 24 "building blocks" the foundation wants to see implemented in the southwest area.