“When industries boom, towns thrive. But when those industries leave, towns wither, hoping for the next big thing to come along. Only vision, community handshaking, and execution make progress happen.”
— Tim Elliott
THE OUTFIELDS VISION
CRAFTING FURNITURE & AN ECONOMIC BOOM
For those who immigrated to the western part of North Carolina, they soon discovered wood was king. That single natural resource catapulted the region into an epicenter for furniture making. Soon, furniture salesmen were traveling up and down the expanse of the east coast, racking up sales, and expense accounts, until one day, in 1911, when someone proposed building a massive furniture showroom showcase in the heart of downtown High Point, NC. It was wildly successful. And as the US population tripled throughout the 1900s, and baby boomers started to buy houses, the furniture business also tripled. Today, furniture showroom space in the downtown area has grown to occupy 13 million square feet in downtown, drawing 60,000-80,000 wholesale buyers and designers from around the world to High Point, North Carolina.
But, there’s a catch: this enormous space is only utilized twice each year; two weeks in the spring, and two weeks in the fall. Sure, during those periods, the economy is booming! The rest of the year? It’s struggling; chains-on-doors, papers-blowing- in-the-wind-down-empty-streets kind of struggling, leaving the city on a mission to recreate High Point into a 365-day-a-year destination for a thriving, year-round, Live-Work-Learn-Play community.
DYNAMIC DUO: UNIVERSITY & HOSPITAL
Thankfully, in addition to furniture, there are two other promising economic engines in town: a university and a hospital. High Point University took its private university of 1,200 students and made a $2 billion capital investment, which created today’s powerhouse campus with nearly 5,000 students. The hospital employs over 1,500 and together, the university and hospital are emerging as powerful magnets, attracting top talent and innovative industry to the region.
We were asked by the city to rethink a new downtown economy. Because even with the hospital and university, the fact remained that downtown was desolate 48 weeks each year. Enter the four C’s of Elliott Sidewalk Communities: campus, commerce, community and culture.
We began with culture and community. After intensive research the answer came: baseball. Specifically, The Rockers, an Atlantic League baseball team. ESC was asked by the city to assemble a master vision for 14 acres of downtown High Point that would include a vibrant development around a 5,000-seat baseball stadium with another privately owned 7 acres to be developed by ESC.
ESC HIRED BY THE CITY TO HIT A HOMERUN
...AND APPEAL TO TODAY'S MODERN WORKFORCE
The question then became: how do we create an exciting environment to attract and retain a vibrant workforce? The answer required us to rethink the urban grid to create a cultural working magnet: office buildings in the heart of the new downtown; a manicured urban pocket park perfect for time outside and out-of-the-box thinking; a food hall overlooking the stadium (and a great place to work from your laptop) – it’s meticulously planned for workplace freedom – work in the office, near the office, or outside of the office – and love every minute of it.
High Point University is also key to fueling new and evolving workforce talent into the downtown landscape. The university has a keen understanding of its part in the viability of the new downtown and has taken an active role to promote The Outfields to students, parents, and faculty.