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Penny Road project hits setback

HIGH POINT — A developer’s plan to build apartments on Penny Road has hit a snag, but the city has not yet issued the last word on the project.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday unanimously recommended denial of a request by Keystone Homes of Greensboro to rezone 9.6 acres at Penny and East Fork roads to allow up to 155 multifamily units.

The property adjoins a 37-acre tract to the north that the company has cleared for up to 439 apartments and 41 single-family home lots.

Commissioners agreed with city planners that the developer’s proposal for three-story apartment buildings would be incompatible with single-family homes in an adjoining neighborhood to the south.

“It seems like everyone has dug in their heels,” Chairman Tom Kirkman said. “Surely there’s some middle ground, as far as density on that lower half of the site.”

Keystone Homes wants the entire site rezoned to allow up to 16 units per acre. City staff recommend limiting development on the southern half of the site to 5 units per acre.

Judy Stalder, a development consultant working with Keystone Homes, told the board that the recommended zoning typically applies to homes that are sold, and her client intends to build apartments.

The commission’s vote is not the final action on the zoning case, which is scheduled to be heard by the City Council May 15.

Developer buys Tesla site

HIGH POINT — The developer of a proposed Tesla dealership in High Point has purchased the property for $5 million.

Woodhaven Development Group acquired the former shopping center at 2620 N. Main St. on April 20, a few days after its request to rezone the 5.7-acre site to accommodate its plans was granted by the City Council.

The sellers were two limited liability companies, one of which is managed by Blue Ridge Cos. CEO David Couch. The other has a Chapel Hill address.

The site includes a 42,680-square-foot retail anchor space that’s been vacant since a Gold’s Gym closed there a few years ago.

Woodhaven Development Co., which has offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, plans to redevelop the property to serve as the first Triad store and service center for Tesla.

The electric car company manufactures and sells its cars directly to consumers, unlike other automakers that sell through franchised dealerships.

A representative of Woodhaven Development Group could not be reached for comment.

The company has not yet submitted any site development plans to the city.

It got the property rezoned from a retail center use to a conditional zoning general business district.

Tesla’s only other two stores and service centers in North Carolina are in Charlotte and Raleigh.

Dean wants to change how optometrists are taught

HIGH POINT — The founding dean of High Point University’s new school of optometry wants to change how the field is taught.

The curriculum will be structured much differently than any other school’s, Dr. Catherine Heyman said. The modular structure will allow students to spend a semester focused on one area of related subjects so students can better integrate the material.

“It’s more like medical school or physician assistants,” she said.

She has wanted to be able to change the traditional curriculum structure because of consistent feedback she has heard from students during her tenure at Marshall B. Ketchum University’s Southern California College of Optometry, where she is completing the current semester before moving to High Point. Students in the graduate program told her they felt pulled in multiple directions and unable to understand some of the material until their third year.

In another major change from the way doctor of optometry programs normally operate, HPU’s will introduce the students to clinical work in their first year instead of their third, Heyman said. They will work in the Lane Student Center under an optometrist’s supervision.

As they gain experience, they’ll get further training in clinics around the High Point area, and by their third year “they’ll be pretty much in-clinic full-time,” she said.

By the time students complete the final year, the different curriculum approach and the greater clinical training should translate to a high passing rate on the licensing exam, she said.

Heyman also plans a “2+4 program,” which would allow HPU students to apply at the start of their junior year for admittance to the four-year optometry graduate program. The first two years of optometry graduate coursework then would count toward completion of their bachelor’s degree as well as toward their doctor of optometry degree.

Heyman’s plan to reshape her field of education has echoes of what the founding dean of HPU’s dental school said a year ago. Dr. Scott De Rossi, who came to HPU after serving as dean of the dental program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said he wants to establish a model that changes the way that oral health care schools approach teaching and training of dentists. And like Heyman’s plan, it includes an earlier and more extensive approach to clinical training.

Both schools are expected to accept their first cohort of students in 2024.

HPU President Nido Qubein, who often speaks admiringly of people who have found success challenging traditional practices, said Tuesday night at an event introducing Heyman to a group of local optometrists and others that Heyman understands HPU’s drive to “be extraordinary.”

“We want it (the optometry school) to be the best of the best,” he said. “We know she’ll take us to new levels of excellence.”

Heyman said that HPU’s ambitions and “transformative growth” the past 15 years are among the things that drew her to the university.

“I like constantly moving forward,” she said.


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