High Point leaders pin downtown hopes on baseball project
A minor-league baseball stadium proposed for High Point is the linchpin of a $140 million downtown revitalization project. Plans call for a hotel, events center and at least 200 apartments. On Sept. 21, the Guilford County Commission delayed a vote on the plan for at least 60 days.
Pepping up downtown High Point in the 48 weeks a year that the furniture market isn’t revving has challenged city leaders for decades. A $140 million plan for minor-league baseball, a children’s museum and an events center could finally move the needle. The project’s catalyst is Nido Qubein, who has overseen more than $1 billion in development at High Point University over the last decade. During that same period, he says the city’s property values have declined by more than $250 million.
“This town was once a thriving center. It ain’t no more,” he told city leaders in September. In recent months, Qubein raised $50 million pledged from nine families, two banks and his university to help pay for the project. (He asked 12 parties for money; only one said no.) He recruited High Point-based Blue Ridge Cos. to develop at least 200 apartments, Greensboro-based Carroll Cos. to build a 100-room hotel and convinced minor-league baseball’s Atlantic League to move a franchise to High Point.
The plan hinges on city-county approval of $30 million in bonds to build a stadium, a tough move given Guilford County’s tense politics. Qubein urged politicians to approve the project to avoid $100 million of private commitments being “flushed down the commode.”
The city’s biggest property owner is one of the project’s biggest supporters, naturally. Attracting more people to downtown High Point bolsters the city’s appeal, says Bob Maricich, chief executive officer of International Market Centers, which oversees 6.5 million square feet of showroom space in the city. “I told Nido about that quote, that the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election, while a statesman thinks about the next generation.”
ASHEBORO — Fibertex Personal Care will invest $60 million over four years at its first U.S. plant, adding 145 jobs. The Denmark-based company makes nonwoven textiles for diapers and other personal-care products.
GREENSBORO — The Fresh Market named Larry Appel president and chief executive officer. He succeeds Rick Anicetti, who resigned in June. Appel, 56, previously worked for Skeeter Snacks and Winn-Dixie Stores, both based in Jacksonville, Fla.
GREENSBORO — Jeffrey Ackerman was named chief financial officer of yarn manufacturer Unifi. Ackerman, 54, previously worked for The Fresh Market, Sealy, Dade Behring and PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay.
MOUNT AIRY — Altec will add 50 jobs and invest $50 million at its local facility. The Birmingham, Ala.-based company last year acquired a division of Pike Electric. Altec provides cranes, chippers and other equipment to electric utilities, telecommunications firms and tree-care companies.
BURLINGTON — LabCorp named Brian Caveney chief medical officer, a newly created position. He previously held the same position at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.