HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Multiple community organizations have big plans for the former High Point Police headquarters off of Leonard Avenue. They want to use the over 22,000-square-foot building as a one-stop community resource hub.
Patrick Harman, of the Hayden-Harman Foundation, is leading the effort called The Bridge. At one location, The Bridge would connect people to healthy food, health care, and job training.
“Feels like the work of the last 10 years have built, intersected with this moment,” Harman said. “We can do this innovative thing that can have a positive impact on the communities.”
To make The Bridge a reality, the City of High Point needs to be on board. Harman, and several other outreach groups, presented their ideas to the Prosperity and Livability Committee. Carl Vierling is the executive director of the Greater High Point Food Alliance. He believes members of the committee understand why The Bridge is needed.
“I think everything they have been asking so far, it’s been a favorable reception,” Vierling said. “The city council is focused on dealing with poverty in our community.”
Along with access to health care and job training, community partners envision turning the land around the former police headquarters into an urban farm. Inside of the building, growers would create a community kitchen and food hub that would make and distribute their products. So the Hayden-Harman proposal could be an economic driver that results in jobs.
“From truck driving, delivery people, marketing, the whole nine. I estimate creating 50 jobs from agribusiness,” Harman said.
The presentation also highlighted that the Greensboro/High Point metropolitan statistical area is fourteenth in the nation when it comes to citizens suffering from food hardship. The 27260 zip code that includes east and south High Point is ranked number four in North Carolina poverty.
“So if you live in the 27260 census tracts, the average life expectancy is 65 years,” Vierling said. “In other parts of Guilford County, it’s 85 years. So it’s a 20-year difference living in a particular census tract.”
Vierling feels The Bridge’s one-stop approach can improve lives by addressing all the issues that keep people in poor health and unemployed.
“You can’t deal with poverty in a silo. They may be hungry, but they have other issues like health care and behavioral health issues,” Vierling said.
Plus, The Bridge proposal would bring more youth programing to Morehead Recreation Center. Bill Vardy lives near the rec center and likes the idea of giving kids more to do.
“Excellent because they play a lot of ball in the back. That will be good because there’s a lot of children here. They will use it up,” Vardy said.
If the city signs on to The Bridge idea, Pat Jones feels the program would be in a central, well-known location.
“It’s going to be beneficial, whatever you do over here,” Jones said. “All you have to say is the old police station. They will know exactly where it is.”
Along with the approval, the Hayden-Harman Foundation is asking the city for a five-year financial commitment of nearly $4 million. The funding would come from the $22.7 million the City of High Point received from the American Rescue Plan Act.