High Point officials have high hopes for a new cooperative furniture effort in downtown meant to help bring young innovative furniture makers together in a cooperative workspace.
That innovation is now happening at “Plant Seven” which had its soft launch in October 2018. The city has turned a 90-year-old, 100,000-square foot building at 410 W. English Road into Plant 7, a space used by a wide range of young and innovative players in the furniture industry.
The building was formerly the Adams-Millis hosiery factory and, later, a furniture event space known as Union Square, but now it’s been turned into a furniture design studio.
The High Point business development group HP365 is responsible for the new space. HP365 is a non-profit established by Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce and some members of the business community.
High Point Mayor Jay Wagner said there’s a great deal of energy emanating from the space and he added that city leaders are very optimistic about the project.
“We really have high hopes for that,” Wagner said. “It’s a very unique opportunity. Just like you have craft beer, you have craft furniture. There’s a lot of young enthusiastic creative people in there making furniture.”
The Plant 7 project recently got several positive mentions in Architectural Digestmagazine.
According to Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., the initiative is one that embraces “modern concepts of the collaborative economy, innovation, a ‘locally-made’ focus, original design, customization, re-emergence of artisanal craftsmanship, entrepreneurial ventures and small-scale manufacturing.” The idea is to bring innovative product designers and engineers, craftsmen, finishers, photographers and related services into the same space “to stimulate the cross-pollination of ideas and techniques.”
It also has the benefit of giving those entrepreneurs shared access to high-tech furniture design and manufacturing tools. The building has meeting spaces, design labs, photography studios, a café, showroom space and an event venue.
The mayor said the location of Plant 7 is perfect for its purpose and that proved to be the case during the furniture market in October.
“We had a lot of young furniture entrepreneurs in there during market,” he said. “The unique thing about that location and being in High Point is that, rather than them having to market to the world, the whole world comes to them twice a year – so they’re able to take advantage of the market being in town.”
Wagner added, “They have very good traffic and I think that’s going to be a very creative entrepreneurial center for us as time goes on.”
HP365 got $3 million in funding for the Plant 7 project, which included a $1.5 million grant from the State of North Carolina that was matched by donations from local benefactors and companies.
Former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini, who’s been one of the big backers of downtown renovation, said he’s pleased to see how everything is falling into place. He also said it’s exciting to watch the progress on the coming new downtown baseball stadium, which is set to host its first game in May.
High point officials anticipate that the stadium opening will, like Plant 7, bring more youth and energy back into the city’s downtown.