City expansion and renovation coming to New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – New Bern leaders continue to make plans to expand the city.

9 On Your Side has already reported about the city council’s plan to renovate the parking lot by city hall and a parking lot on First Street. Board members want to build a parking deck with commercial businesses on the first floor.

In the next few years, more big changes are coming to New Bern. That means more jobs and more places to live. However, many community members have one worry on their mind.

“We are talking about apartments, which are wonderful, but where are people going to park? We can’t even find parking when we come downtown now,” said Bobbi Fisher, community member. It’s the biggest concern for community members when they hear about new development. “The growth is fabulous and we love this beautiful southern town, the hospitality and the people and everything about it, we just need more places for our cars.”

Others hope the city sees success but keeps the historic feel to it.

“That’s why a lot of people came to New Bern and that’s why I retired here in New Bern. It’s a very historic city on the water and we need to keep it that way,” said Gene Peele, community member.

Areas next to City Hall and open land on South Front Street will see big improvements in the next few years. Peele commented, “We’ve gone out and contacted an architectural firm to help us design up to three design scenarios for two sites downtown.”

Development Services Director Jeffery Ruggieri said a parking deck, shops or commercial offices are in the works, “It’s astronomical the amount of jobs and the amount of investment once built out over the next few years and completed will bring to the city.”

These aren’t the only places looking to grow in Craven County. The Riverfront Convention Center is also talking about a possible expansion, but they need an outside company to conduct a study.

“They have to look at a bunch of things such as parking and who would use it and does it need to be exhibition space, or should it be ballroom space,” Sabrina Bengel, Tourism Development Authority, added.

However anyone looks at it, New Bern is growing into a bigger city with community involvement needed to make it happen.

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