Book on the market, downtown gets mixed response

October 28 — HIGH POINT — John Joe Schlichtman only lived in High Point for about three years, but he’s been studying downtown and the High Point market for 20 years and, in many ways, he views the city as a secondary residence. .

It shows in the energy he exudes when he talks about the book that resulted from his research, “Showroom City,” and the city’s downtown revitalization efforts – efforts he didn’t believe, until ‘to the past few years, would one day materialize. The question is close to his heart.

“I think there is unprecedented reason to hope now compared to the last 40 years” that a significant part of the city center will become a place where people who live here all year round will feel their belong, he said.

But Schlichtman, an associate professor of sociology at DePaul University in Chicago, is quick to say that he doesn’t live here and that anything downtown should evolve according to the wishes of local residents.

“Showroom City” is part local history, part diary, and part urban planning analysis and critique, telling the story of how furniture showrooms have taken over much of downtown – now 12 million square feet of space. The book came out in June.

Schlichtman was in High Point this week and spoke about her book during appearances at the High Point Public Library and Sunrise Books. He also spoke with students from UNC Greensboro and UNC Chapel Hill.

He said reaction to the book among High Point residents has been mixed.

“One answer is that some people don’t believe I’ve studied the city” and want to fill it in, he said.

Some people view the book as a positive contribution that will help spur further revitalization efforts, he said.

And some look at it with cynicism, believing that they have already been burned too many times, believing that events were moving in a positive way, only to see nothing develop.

If the book helps stimulate discussion of issues, even if people think his view of them is incorrect, he would consider that a good outcome, he said.

Angela C. Hale