It’s hard to keep track of all the pieces of the giant construction puzzle going on in downtown High Point as part of the city’s rejuvenation project these days, however, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, another big piece of that puzzle was put squarely into place.
High Point University (HPU) President Nido Qubein announced that the Congdon Events Center – a convention center and events space meant to play a big role in High Point’s downtown revitalization – is going to be built in a parking lot on the corner of English Road and North Elm Street next: The Factory, a 95,000 square-foot furniture showroom owned by Bermex Furniture, and near Plant Seven, a 90-year-old, 100,000-square foot building at 410 W. English Road that’s now being used by a wide range of young and innovative players in the furniture industry. Together, those two buildings and the parking lot made up the Adams-Millis hosiery manufacturing plan that played a major role in that town’s economy for decades.
High Point Economic Development Corp. President Loren Hill, who provided the Rhino Timeswith an aerial shot of the coming construction site, said the new events center will be an important addition to the city and its downtown because High Point doesn’t currently have a convention center.
“We have not had a dedicated events space,” Hill said.
He said the city used to have one at Showplace High Point in downtown, but that facility had converted to showroom space.
Hill also said the new events center will benefit by being right next to the new stadium as well as close to many other places of interest that are part of High Point downtown version 2.0.
“People who came in can walk to the bars and restaurants or they may want to see a game at night,” he said.
Qubein’s Wednesday announcement of the larger than expected 25,000-square-foot events center was a boost to the momentum of the city’s downtown project.
Qubein stated in a press release, “We have taken the original plans from a single use, large ballroom and expanded them into a large ballroom that extends into a 100,000-square-foot multipurpose facility.”
The university president, who’s played a central role in the downtown renovation project that centers around a new baseball stadium, said “It will provide incredible opportunity, efficiencies and productivity to groups inside and outside the city. It exceeds the scale of our original vision and can host concurrent events, large expositions and a multiplicity of applications.”
The project, which is being financed by the Earl and Kathryn Congdon Family Foundation, is expected to cost about $20 million. Once in operation, it will be run by the High Point Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The architecture and design of the Congdon Events Center are meant to fit in well with The Factory, Plant Seven and the new baseball stadium that will host its first game in May.
“We have created a facility that has romance and utility, as well as efficiency and effectiveness, all at the same time,” Qubein said.
He added that he’s excited that the conference center will be on the site of two existing prominent buildings.
“I see potential connectivity between the Congdon Events Center, expositions, showrooms and more using the stadium also as an outdoor facility for events,” he said. “They meet over here, have an event over there, go to a game and so on.”
Qubein also predicted that High Point will experience a radical transformation in the near future.
“Our city will see in the next two to three years a truly developed and energized downtown High Point,” he said.
The Wednesday announcement was a follow-up to a keynote address Qubein gave in May 2017 at the High Point Convention and Visitor Bureau’s Annual Meeting. At that meeting, Qubein accepted a request from Forward High Point to lead the acquisition of a baseball team and secure the naming rights of the proposed downtown stadium. He also announced at that time that he planned to raise millions in private donations for the city’s downtown catalyst project. That total philanthropic investment, at $58 million late last year, has now reached $63 million.
Qubein said on Wednesday that there are other plans in the pipeline and added that he and others working on the project “continue to study and dissect plans.”
He said he believes the overall project “speaks phenomenally about the art of the possible in the city of High Point.”