The owner of Time Square, a neo-classical shopping center in High Point’s Uptowne district, has acquired the classic Fire Station No. 4 property.
Before anyone conceived of Uptowne as a kind of surrogate downtown to compensate for the furniture showrooms’ monopoly on real estate in High Point’s central business district, David Riedlinger was assembling properties at the intersection of North Main Street and Lexington Avenue.
Time Square has something that much of the rest of High Point lacks — wide sidewalks, brick edging and topiary that give pedestrians a degree of comfort in an otherwise auto-dominant city. Ample parking space is tucked discretely behind the buildings, in stark contrast to the strip shopping centers that line much of North Main Street. And Time Square’s unified neoclassical design gives a distinctive feel to the handful of buildings curving around the southwestern corner of the intersection.
Riedlinger bought the first building in 1991 because he needed space for his construction business, then largely devoted to building furniture showrooms.
“All I wanted this property for was for my office,” he recalled on a recent Friday. “They just kept presenting themselves. Then, like pieces in the puzzle they all came together.”
Over the course of five or six years, Riedlinger assembled the properties one by one. His final acquisition was the property in the center, formerly a gas station. He and the seller had become deadlocked, but then one morning he saw stakes in the ground and learned a Starbucks was coming in. He quickly worked out a deal with the seller, and the Starbucks ended up opening six blocks north on Westchester Drive. The property is now the centerpiece of Riedlinger’s retail complex, and the home of his anchor tenant, Simon Jewelers.
One property Riedlinger passed on during his initial acquisition phase was the Fire Station No. 4. Built in 1927, the two-story, brick fire station has the quaint feel of an Alpine lodge thanks to its steep-pitched roof and shed-dormer windows, along with a wooden-framed garage door in front that hearkens to its original function.
The old fire station is contiguous with the southern-most property in Time Square, so when the opportunity to buy it arose, Riedlinger decided it fit with his plans for expansion. Riedlinger purchased the property on June 13 for $225,000 from Christian and Kathy Conrad, who operated it as a salon for 23 years.
Driveways flank either side of the building, allowing Riedlinger to expand parking for Time Square.
“It helps us to grow Time Square,” he said.
He’ll add seven angled parking spaces along the south-facing wall of the fire station. Meanwhile, he’s built a new fence along the south end of the parking lot and trimmed back branches with plans to add two additional 400-watt stadium lights so that the parking lot to improve its illumination after dark.
In contrast to the neo-classical façade unifying the rest of Time Square, the fire station will retain its historic character with no changes planned for its exterior. However, Riedlinger is planning install boxwood topiaries and paint the planters in front of the fire station a dark green hue consistent with the rest of his retail complex. He’ll replace the lamppost with antique pewter and install LED lighting. All told, he expects to spend $35,000 on landscaping and parking improvements.
Riedlinger said it’s possible that he’ll lease the fire station to another salon, but he’s going to take his time and screen for the right tenant to make sure he finds someone who is compatible with his current tenants. A law firm might be another possibility. Zoning for the property allows for some residential use, so someone could conceivably operate a business at street level and live upstairs.
Despite growing interest in urbanism, most of Riedlinger’s tenants at Time Square have oriented their businesses towards the parking lot as opposed to the street. Riedlinger cited the near constant foot traffic in and out of Sweet Josephine’s bakery, which relocated to the complex from its previous location at Centennial Street near Eastchester Drive, as evidence of Time Square’s growing vitality. Marley’s Kitchen recently replaced the old Golden B Restaurant, while Simply Nails, Nabil’s Alterations, an Edward Jones financial services firm, the Fisher Law Firm and the Tax Reporting Group fill out the complex.
While the retail, service and restaurant businesses that comprise Time Square are likely to continue to rely on an auto-based clientele, Riedlinger said he sees some evidence of an increasing interest in walkability.
“There is a change in the trend,” he said.
He added that Brown Truck Brewing, located just a couple blocks down Main Street, is a welcome addition to the district.
“I think we all help each other,” he said.