Category: New Bern business and commerce

June 20th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern received a mediocre score for family friendliness in North Carolina from WalletHub, a website that produces data-driven articles ranking various subjects in various categories.

In ranking North Carolina cities for “2019’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina,” New Bern ranked 56th out of 87 cities. The top-ranked city was Cary, while coming in at 87th was Laurinburg.

In Eastern North Carolina, Havelock — you read that right — was the highest rated city in the survey, coming in at 35th. Other Eastern NC cities were Wilmington (44th), Greenville (53rd), Jacksonville (59th), Wilson (70th), Elizabeth City (75th), Tarboro (77th), Goldsboro (81st), and Kinston (84th).

Taking just Eastern North Carolina cities into account, then, New Bern ranked fourth, just behind Greenville and ahead of Jacksonville.

The rankings took into consideration 10 metrics, of which New Bern did better than average in just three: violent-crime rate per capita, unemployment rate, and playgrounds per capita.

New Bern ranked low in several categories, including percentage of families with children under age 17, median family income, and high school graduation rate. It rated near the bottom — 72nd — in housing affordability.

New Bern appears at the top of many lists, from Top Charming Small Towns to Top Small Retirement Towns, but these are typically niche categories. Raising a family is about as fundamental to a city’s purpose as you can get, and New Bern’s ranking, indeed rankings of all Eastern North Carolina cities, should raise some red flags and help policymakers in making decisions.

The data used in these rankings is entirely publicly available, and is the same information that companies look at when determining expansion and relocations.

True, New Bern is constantly looking for ways to up its game. But take one example, the planned Martin-Marietta Park. New Bern already ranks high for playgrounds per capita (24th in the state). Martin-Marietta Park won’t move the bar one iota in rankings such as these, even if it’s a park that is physically larger than most of Craven County’s smaller cities.

The focus should be where New Bern and Craven County are average or weak — median family income, quality of school system, high school graduation rate, poverty rate, and perhaps foremost, housing affordability.

Here are specific rankings for New Bern:

Raising a Family in New Bern (1=Best; 43=Avg.; 87=Worst)

  • 64th – % of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17
  • 57th – Median Family Income (adjusted for cost of living)
  • 49th – Quality of School System
  • 52nd – High School Graduation Rate
  • 34th – Violent-Crime Rate per Capita
  • 72nd – Housing Affordability
  • 48th – % of Families Living in Poverty
  • 31st – Unemployment Rate
  • 45th – Divorce Rate
  • 24th – Playgrounds per Capita

Full report here:

Source: WalletHub

 

Posted in Achievements, Commentary, Community, Community issues, Craven County, Craven County Schools, Crime, Economy, Economy and Employment, Education, Infrastructure, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion, Politics, Public safety, Retirement, State news, State politics

March 13th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Six months after it made landfall, Hurricane Florence’s impacts on New Bern’s economy are still being felt throughout the city, but a new development may delay full recovery for some time.

Hurricane-damaged DoubleTree Riverfront hotel is closed indefinitely over insurance coverage issues related to the hurricane. Downtown New Bern will continue to face its worst economic crisis since 2008-10, when access to downtown was crippled by a bridge replacement and road construction projects.

“Business is definitely down,” said Lynne Harakal, director of Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, said about Hurricane Florence recovery. “The best information I can provide is revenues are down about 15-20 percent since the hurricane. In retail, that’s a very large hit. Most small retailers have a profit margin of about 10 percent at the end of the year, so if these percentages continue many of our retailers could be in jeopardy.

“Not having the DoubleTree makes this situation even more ominous. Our downtown businesses need the DoubleTree operational. Furthermore, they need the Conventional Center up and running and a thriving Farmers Market to draw customers to our shops and restaurants.”

New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, a top venue for activities ranging from Marine Corps Birthday balls to corporate shareholder meetings, occupies about 3 acres of the downtown frontage on the banks of the Trent River.

The Convention Center was badly damaged during the hurricane, but is aiming to reopen in the fall. A big piece of its marketing plan has been the presence of a full-service hotel right next door—the DoubleTree Riverfront by Hilton.

Sources said there have already been two cancelled bookings at the Convention Center because of the DoubleTree being closed.

The Convention Center and DoubleTree Riverfront occupy a space previously known as Bicentennial Park and, before that, New Bern’s busy waterfront dating to the 1700s. More

Why does the DoubleTree matter? After all, there are two other hotels downtown, and several others elsewhere in the city.

Downtown’s two operating hotels are the Courtyard by Marriott, overlooking the Neuse River, with 100 rooms, and the Bridgepointe Hotel and Marina across the Trent River with 115 rooms. Both the Courtyard and the Bridgepointe are locally owned.

DoubleTree Riverfront, with 171 rooms, is by far the city’s largest hotel. More importantly, it is New Bern’s only full-service hotel. A full-service hotel offers full service accommodations, an on-site restaurant, and personalized service, such as a concierge, room service, and clothes pressing staff.

The DoubleTree was the hotel Alpha in New Bern, occupying the premiere location along the Trent River between the Convention Center and the N.C. History Center.

The DoubleTree is owned RPG Hospitality and managed by Singh Investment Group of Augusta, Georgia. More

Once a full-fledged Hilton and, before that, a Sheraton, the $12 million property in New Bern has been operating under Hilton’s DoubleTree flag for several years.

Singh Investment Group owns one other hotel property in North Carolina (all others are in Georgia), the DoubleTree Oceanfront by Hilton in Atlantic Beach. It, too, was severely damaged by Hurricane Florence and remains closed.

Singh Investment has not answered a request to be interviewed by New Bern Post, and local officials say they have not answered their inquiries since January.

In mid-February, the hotel’s general manager attended a Tourism Development Agency meeting and said that due to litigation with the hotel’s insurance carrier over whether it covered damage from wind-driven rain, the hotel might remain closed.

The hotel owners transferred the general manager and two weeks later laid off the entire staff except the sales manager and a couple of maintenance workers. The sales manager worked to cancel remaining bookings.

This puts downtown New Bern in a bad spot. Take the New Bern Grand Marina, for example. It is under separate ownership, but it partnered with DoubleTree to provide amenities to the marina including showers and laundry.

Then, of course, its impacts on Convention Center bookings, and a large hotel staff that has been laid off.

Then there are other effects. A vast, empty parking lot beside a large hotel is not a good indicator of a thriving downtown.

In short, it puts downtown growth and prosperity at serious risk.

Moreover, the longer DoubleTree remains closed, the harder it will be to bring it back into operation. The DoubleTree may very well go from being one of Downtown New Bern’s crown jewels, to a major liability.

It’s sort of like what the Days Hotel did in Five Points. The Days Hotel went from being in business to derelict to being razed over an eight-year span.

Alderman Sabrina Bengel, when asked what the city could do about the hotel, said, “Nothing. It’s private property.”

She equates DoubleTree with the beleaguered SkySail condominiums right next door to the DoubleTrees and the long-vacant Elks Building smack dab in the middle of Downtown New Bern. They, too, are major properties in the downtown that seek solutions and remain vacant or underutilized.

She said DoubleTree’s owners said they are not interested in selling the hotel, and continue to seek a resolution from the insurance carrier.

Meanwhile, the hotel has not reached the level of nuisance abatement, and is current on its taxes, which total just over $120,000 per year.

While it is true that the hotel is private property, current on taxes, and may not have reached a point where it is a public safety hazard, it is demonstrably true that a vacant and empty hotel has an adverse economic impact on the city.

Cities have used that argument to justify employing eminent domain, the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

Whether the city has the stomach for that kind of nuclear option depends on how severe impacts become as the DoubleTree Riverfront remains closed.

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Boating, Business, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, FEMA, Hurricane, Infrastructure, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

February 9th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The Board of Aldermen meets Tuesday for two separate sessions, a regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. and a work session covering utility rates starting at 3 p.m.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, here are some of the more interesting agenda items:

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence. 

Here is the full agenda:

CITY OF NEW BERN, 300 Pollock Street, P.O. Box 1129 New Bern, NC 28563-1129 . (252) 636-4000

Dana E. Outlaw Mayor

Mark A. Stephens City Manager

Memo to: Mayor and Board of Aldermen From: Mark A. Stephens, City Manager Date: February 8, 2019

Re: February 12, 2019 Agenda Explanations

1. Meeting  opened  by Mayor  Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call.

3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views. We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period. At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium. Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.

In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda

4. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Neuse River Bridge Run.

(Ward 1) The Neuse River Bridge Run is slated for March 23, 2019. Accordingly, John Serumgard, Race Director, the event, has requested the 200 block of East Front Street be closed from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the 200 block of South Front Street be closed from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. The organizers also plan to hold a “Super Kids Run” on March 22, 2019 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Union Point Park, and the Director of Parks and Recreation has authorized the closure of the park streets during this time. A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.

5. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Great Glow Run.

(Ward 1) Kathy Lewis, Officer Manager for Easter Seals UCP, has requested specific streets be closed on April 13, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. for the annual Great Glow Run. The streets to be closed are the 200-700 blocks of East Front Street, a portion of the 800 block of North Craven Street, 700-800 blocks of Howard Street, 100-600 blocks of Queen Street, and 600-800 blocks of George Street. This Easter Seals fundraiser also promotes awareness. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached.

6. Consider Adopting a Revised Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Black History Month Parade.

(Ward 1) After receiving a request from Victor Taylor with Vision Forward, the Board adopted a resolution on January 22, 2019 to close specific streets on February 16, 2019 for the annual Black history Month Parade. That resolution failed to include approval of the requested rain date of February 23, 2019. The resolution has been revised to include this date, and all other information remains the same with respect to the affected streets. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached along with copies of the application, a map of the parade route, and the resolution approved in January.

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Portions of Spencer Avenue for the Ghent Neighborhood Mardi Gras Parade.

(Ward 1) Michael Genest, President of the Ghent Neighborhood Association, has requested the 1400-2000 blocks of Spencer Avenue be closed to vehicular traffic on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the association’s annual Mardi Gras Parade and block party. A memo from Mr. Hughes, a copy of the application and a parade map are included in the backup documentation.

8. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the January 15, 2019 special meeting, January 22, 2019 regular

meeting, January 26, 2019 special meeting, and January 26, 2019 annual retreat are provided for review and approval.

______

9. Presentation of Longevity Certificates.

Employment service is recognized at five-year increments. A roster is enclosed of all employees who are eligible to receive a service certificate for the period of July­ December 2018. Some of these employees will be present at the meeting, and certificates will be on hand for the Mayor to present. Sharon Koprowski, Assistant Director of Human Resources, will be available to assist with the presentation. The Board is asked to extend a handshake of appreciation to the employees.

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

13. Presentation on African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern Project.

(Ward 1) Carol Becton, a representative with the African American Heritage & Cultural Center, will make a presentation on the center’s vision, as well as its plans to celebrate Juneteenth in 2019.

14. Presentation on Reliable Public Power.

Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, will make a presentation regarding the City’s application for the American Public Power Association’s designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (“RP3”).

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Human Resources Policy.

As a follow-up to the previous presentation, a Resolution approving a Human Resources Policy is proposed.

17. Receive Public Comment and Consider Adopting a Resolution Naming a Currently Unnamed Street as Sheryl Drive.

(Ward 4) In the area of Glenburnie Road, an unnamed street connects Elizabeth Avenue and Amhurst Boulevard. In 2013 and 2015, a proposed development named Quail Forest was reviewed and the right-of-way for this roadway dedicated, but not officially named. The proposed name, Sheryl Drive, was reviewed and approved by E911. Staff has met with adjacent property owners regarding the name proposal. It is requested the Board receive public comments on this naming and then consider adopting a resolution to establish the name.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence.

19. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Accept a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure of Tax Lien.

(Ward 1) Craven County pursued foreclosure on 209 Lawson Street for delinquent ad valorem taxes owed to the County. At the time of the foreclosure, there were also delinquent taxes owed to the City. A commissioner’s deed was recorded on August 18, 2018 conveying the property to the County, which resulted in the City’s tax liens remaining intact. In order to avoid foreclosure by the City to collect those taxes, the County proposes a deed to convey the property to the City and County jointly, with the deed specifying the amount of both the County and City’s taxes, interest, liens, fees and costs as of August 18, 2018. The resolution authorizes the recording of the proposed deed and accepts the same in lieu of foreclosure of the City’s tax lien.

20. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Installation of Additional Street Lights.

(Ward 5) Time McKean of 2800 Millinder Lane has requested additional street lighting at the intersection of South Glenburnie Road and Millinder Lane. The Department of Public Utilities evaluated the area and determined the current lighting does not meet the City’s light standard. The installation of one street light will cost approximately $574.96, and the monthly utility charge for service will be $8.44. A memo from Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, is attached along with other supporting documentation.

21. Appointment(s).

  1. Raymond Layton’s second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is ineligible for reappointment. Alderman Kinsey is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  2. Sonny Aluzzo’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Aster is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Aluzzo or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  3. Jerry Walker’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Bengel is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Walker or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  4. Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  5. Joseph Anderson has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mr. Anderson’s term, which expires on June 13, 2019.
  6. Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
  7. Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.

22. Attorney’s Report.

23. City Manager’s Report. 

24. New Business.

25. Closed Session.

26. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Elections, FEMA, Infrastructure, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

December 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Did you go by the new Harris Teeter since it opened on Wednesday? Odds are pretty good that you did.

In a small town like New Bern, folks here can be relied on to try something new. Remember when Cook Out opened?

On opening day, I saw city officials including Jeff Odham, in whose ward the new Harris Teeter is located, and City Manager Mark Stephens proudly roaming the vast floor space of the gleaming new store.

Coke Mann, a partner with Columbia Development Group, developer of the shopping center, was quoted in the Sun Journal crediting Odham and Mayor Dana Outlaw for their bringing the super-expanded HT to New Bern.

I saw lots of regular people combing through the almost 100,000-foot feet of shopping space, which is more than just a simple supermarket. (Some say the store actually has 105,000 square feet of floor space.)

We are not wedded to a particular grocery store. We shop at Publix most often, but not exclusively, and mainly due to its modern and wide selection coupled with its less crowded aisles.

With the opening of the new Harris Teeter, that may change.

The store replaces a 55,000-square-foot store on South Glenburnie Road, which closed the day before the new store opened.

It is claimed to be the largest Harris Teeter out of the chain’s 246 stores. Some media outlets have called it the largest in the world, but since its world is pretty much contained within Southern states, that’s a somewhat pretentious claim.

Still, it’s plenty big, and within it are sections that by themselves are impressively large.

There is a Starbucks inside the Harris Teeter, just as there was at the old location, but this one has a dining area that has to make this particular Starbucks one of the largest in the world, and that’s saying something.

Then there is the food court, contained within an area that could be a nice-size grocery store all by itself.

There is a bakery, fresh produce and meats, a deli, a sushi bar, a buffet, a burger bar, a specialty bar with changing themes, and a bar-bar. Yes, a bar … where you can get beer and wine by the glass.

As for the grocery aisles, they are so long they are subdivided, with a third row intersecting at the middle. Looking from one end toward the other, the aisles extend almost as far as the eye can see.

Filling all those aisles with merchandise must be a challenge by itself. I have not looked deeply into it, but the few places I did look showed a much-expanded variety of brands and varieties.

Staffing this store must be equally challenging. I counted six people working at the Starbucks counter, four at the burger bar, three at the beer and wine bar, and so on.

I am not sure if they staffed up for opening week or if they plan to maintain that staffing level.

Sarah, Mark and I went there on opening day and had dinner. We bought a couple of items from the grocery aisles before going home.

We returned on Saturday to find the same buzz one encounters when surrounded by hundreds of happy people. The store is large enough to accommodate a thousand customers without feeling overly crowded.

Sarah got several selections from the sushi train and described the quality as good as any restaurant in New Bern. I went for simple–a burger and fries. The way I figure it, if you can’t do a burger and fries right, then what can you do right?

And boy, did they do it right. It paired nicely with the glass of Mother Earth pale ale that I got at the bar.

While waiting for my order, I ran into four people I knew, and that’s the great thing about a venue like this. It’s a magnet that draws people together, and for more than one purpose.

Before, you would go to Harris Teeter for groceries. Maybe you might grab something from the salad bar or deli or the Starbucks counter, but there was really nothing that set it apart from any other modern grocery store.

This Harris Teeter is not just a retailer, it is a community amenity. You can literally spend the day there, enjoying a fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a couple of glasses of beer or wine later in the day before actually doing any grocery shopping.

Note: the beer and wine bar opens at 10 a.m. daily except Sundays, when it opens at 11 a.m. But who’s judging?

The parking lot is large and full but sufficient and well laid out. Other stores in the shopping center, which is called New Bern Marketplace, round out the remaining two-thirds of retail floor space at the 34-acre, 325,000-square-food retail venue.

One thing it has over Downtown New Bern: parking is not limited to two hours.

So what can you expect at the Teeter?

Greeting you as you arrive at one of the entrances is the floral counter managed by Mary Gierie-Merrell, who Mayor Outlaw has described as New Bern’s unofficial mayor.

At that same entrance, off to the right, is the Starbucks counter with its spacious and open dining area. It is equipped with tables and booths and two big-screen TVs. The window-wall is lined with a long counter with tall chairs for computer users and enough USB ports and electric sockets for every two chairs.

Beyond is the amazing food court, and to its left, the expansive grocery aisles.

One glitch was WiFi. Though it is provided, I was unable to connect to the internet using it. Another quibble is that if you want to sit at a table and plug in your device or computer to a power source, there are just two tables within range of just one wall socket, and they are right underneath a big-screen TV. That may be by design. It is understandable why a store would not want its tables taken up by people using computers all day.

The impacts of the new Harris Teeter on New Bern will be interesting to see.

It will undoubtedly cut into business of other existing grocery stores. But being so large, it will draw shoppers from outside New Bern and maybe from outside Craven County.

When the N.C. 43 connector is extended from U.S. 70 to U.S. 17 in the next few years, it will make access to New Bern Marketplace easier to reach from Pitt and Lenoir residents. It’s already the easiest retail center to reach in New Bern from Jones and Onslow counties.

As I said, this Harris Teeter is not just a store, it is a community amenity.

Fun facts

  • Harris Teeter’s previous largest stores, measuring at 80,000 square feet of store space, are located in Pinehurst and Charlotte.
  • The New Bern store is only the second location to have a juice bar.
  • It is the first to have a build-your-own burger bar.
  • It is the first to have a sushi train.

Posted in Achievements, Activities, Aldermen, Beer, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Entertainment, Events, Food, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion

October 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The original plan for Craven Thirty included a large, robust area for commercial and light industrial development.

Remember back in  2012, all the buzz about Craven Thirty? All that sweet, sweet new retail space, a multiplex theater, and new neighborhoods? You probably also remember how last year Craven Thirty morphed into West Craven, with less focus on business and more focus on residential.

Now, more than a year later, West Craven has emerged into the public eye again. Its developer, Weyerhaeuser NR Company, is asking for the city to enter into a development agreement. It is on the Board of Aldermen’s agenda for next Tuesday, when the board is expected to set a date for a public hearing.

And this latest version of West Craven looks a lot like the original Craven Thirty, but with even more commercial space.

Zoning codes are: C-3 commercial, R-6 residential, I-2 light industrial, A-5F agriculture district.

The city entered into a development agreement with Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Development Company in September 2010 for what was to become Craven Thirty. The city annexed the 550-acres Craven Thirty property in December 2012.

A ribbon cutting was conducted by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, and construction was announced to begin in spring 2013. Some streets were put in, along with other infrastructure, but nothing else was built during he intervening six years. Blame the economy.

The revised and renamed project would include just under 250 acres for residential development, just under 250 acres of commercial development, just over 47 acres for light industrial, and just over 27 acres of agriculture forestry district with low-density residential uses.

The plan calls for a total of 1,500 residential units phased in over 15 years, 500,000 square feet of non-residential space, a 150-room hotel sometime during the first five years, and 10 acres for a private school, also during the first five years.

The agreement establishes the development phasing sequences for the project, establishes a Master Development Plan and development review process that can accommodate the timing, phasing and flexibility of the project, coordinates the construction and design of infrastructure that will serve the project and the community at large, confirms the dedication and/or provision of public amenities by the developer, and provides assurances to the developer that it may proceed with the project in accordance with the approved original zoning and the terms of this agreement without encountering future changes in ordinances, regulations, technical standards or policies that would affect its ability to develop the relevant parcels under the approved zoning and the terms hereof.

The project will include small neighborhoods, a walkable village area, and connections to open space that will “support and reinforce the City of New Bern as an attractive place to live, work and recreate.” The size and scale of the project requires a long-term commitment of both public and private resources and requires careful integration between the programming of public capital facilities, the phasing of development and the development review and approval process.

The West Craven site is well suited for access from all parts of New Bern, or it will be. It is located at the intersection of U.S. 70 and the N.C. 43 connector. There are plans to extend the N.C. 43 connector from where it now ends just west of U.S. 70, all the way through to U.S. 17.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Business, Community, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

September 25th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Governor Cooper announces 33 jobs and $2.25M investment in Craven County

McGuckin & Pyle, Inc., a manufacturer of custom lamination and processing equipment, chose Craven County for its new plant, creating 33 new jobs and investing $2.25 million, N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland announced today. The company will bring mechanical and electrical control system assembly and machinery services to New Bern.
“Much of our state is hurting after Hurricane Florence. As we continue to support each other and start to recover and rebuild, McGuckin & Pyle’s choice to move to New Bern and belief in this community underscores North Carolina’s resilience,” said Secretary Copeland. “This is a company that picked North Carolina because of our people, and they are committed to rebuilding together with all of us in North Carolina.”
McGuckin & Pyle produces custom processing industrial equipment such as laminators, winding and unwinding machines, carton forming machines and more. Additionally, the company offers mechanical, electrical and automation control system design and engineering along with machining and fabrication services which will also be located at the New Bern facility. McGuckin & Pyle is privately owned with headquarters and only current facility in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
“Extending our operations into North Carolina is a real game-changer for our company, and we are committed to rebuilding Craven County and helping play a part in getting people back on their feet after Hurricane Florence,” said Keith Connolly, President for McGuckin & Pyle. “Strategically, this growth is a necessity. We have many clients in the Carolinas and this expansion will allow us to broaden our level of support to those businesses. Craven County was integral in navigating the possible incentives that were available for our business.  It was a combination of their efforts and the generous support awarded to us that ultimately convinced us that this was the site for our continued growth.”
“Craven County has the workforce needed for manufacturers to be successful, and McGuckin & Pyle knows that no hurricane can take that away from this strong community,” continued Secretary Copeland. “McGuckin & Pyle will move into Craven County Industrial Park, and the strong transportation and utility infrastructure there will support the company’s growth in the Carolinas and beyond.”
The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. (EDPNC) were instrumental in supporting the company’s expansion decision.
Salaries for the new jobs will vary by position but will average $44,304, which is more than the average wage of $37,1746 in Craven County.
A performance-based grant of $70,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help facilitate McGuckin & Pyle’s move to North Carolina.  The One N.C. Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment.  All One NC grants require a matching grant from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.
“As we continue to respond and recover from Hurricane Florence, McGuckin & Pyle’s move to New Bern is a welcome bright spot,” said  N.C. Senator Norman W. Sanderson. “Our focus right now is getting people back on their feet, and bringing more good jobs can only help that effort.”
In addition to North Carolina Commerce and the Economic Partnership of North Carolina, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Craven County, the Craven 100 Alliance, North Carolina’s Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership and Duke Energy.

Posted in Business, Craven County, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

September 5th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Location map for a proposed dental office next to Chick-fil-A at New Bern Mall.

Times are tough for brick and mortar retail locations, particularly indoor malls. Just look at Vernon Mall in Kinston (hint: it’s vacant).

New Bern Mall (aka Twin Rivers Mall) has been soldiering on, trying to fill remaining vacant out parcels and upgrade its interior tenants over the past several years.

One such attempt was securing a Cracker Barrel. The mall’s owner, Hull Property Group, filled in a drainage pond and completely re-engineered its drainage system along with part of its parking lot in order to make space for a Cracker Barrel.

The Cracker Barrel was to be located in the southeast corner of the mall, next to Chick-fil-A, a restaurant that is so busy it creates its own traffic jams near the mall entrance.

The deal fell through.

Now Hull Property Group is developing a portion of that location as a dental office.

The site plan describes the facility as a shell building, which usually implies that a tenant will be sought after the building is complete. However, Hull Property Group, on its website, announced back in March that Aspen Dental would be opening a location. The announcement was brief and to the point: “Aspen Dental will be coming to the New Bern Mall and will occupy approximately 3,500 sf.”

Floorplan of the proposed dental office at New Bern Mall.

Now, plans for a dental office are coming before the city Departmental Review Committee on Sept. 14. That’s the stage where the site plan gets reviewed and critiqued by various city departments to make sure it passes muster.

A project plan at this stage is no guarantee that the project will actually happen.

The addition of a dental office to the New Bern Mall footprint is not exactly an exciting addition. It’s maybe even less exciting than the Mattress Firm store that opened there several years ago. Certainly it’s nowhere near as exciting as the Buffalo Wild Wings and Starbucks that opened there during the same timeframe, and the renovation of Belk about eight years ago.

Still, given the congested nature of that portion of the New Bern Mall parking lot, a dental office may be a good fit.

New Bern Mall has faced stiff competition for new tenants since the development of New Bern Marketplace farther west on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. That new shopping center landed an enlarged Harris Teeter, Ross, Hobby Lobby, Academy Sports, and, unofficially, several restaurants.

 

Posted in Business, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

July 11th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association, creator and host of the annual NCRLA Chef Showdown presented by Got to be NC Agriculture, announced the 21 chefs selected to compete in its third annual cooking competition.

Among those selected is Antonio Campolio of Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant in New Bern.

The chefs and pastry chefs, all based in North Carolina, advance after cooking up the highest-rated dishes across three regional competitions. The main NCRLA Chef Showdown event takes place on Monday, Aug. 27, at Aria at Founders Hall in the Bank of America Center in Uptown Charlotte, N.C.

Antonio Campolio, NCRLA Chef Showdown 2018 finalist. He is executive chef at Persimmons Waterfront Restaurant in New Bern.

From the Persimmons website: At the age of 12, Chef Campolio began washing dishes at his parents’ restaurant. Beginning at age 18, Chef Campolio worked his way through the world famous Greenbrier Hotel’s Culinary Internship Program, learning valuable skills he still uses daily. After his time at the Greenbrier, Chef Campolio continued his career at 700 Drayton in Savannah, Ga. and later at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Co. Before coming to Persimmons, Chef Campolio was the Executive Chef at the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, Wa., where he lead the restaurant to numerous national accolades including Restaurant of the Year by the Washington Wine Commission. During his time in Washington, Chef Campolio was invited to cook a meal at the James Beard House (named for the legendary American chef) in New York City, one of the highest honors a chef can receive.

Recently becoming a father, Chef Campolio and his wife, Zeljana, were attracted to New Bern as a great place to raise their son. “We visited and fell in love with the town for our family. Then I went to Persimmons and saw an incredible opportunity to really focus on local, sustainable food year-round. It was a perfect fit.”

In his short time at Persimmons, Chef Campolio has already established relationships with local farmers, ranchers and breweries and says the restaurant will feature bi-seasonal menus to highlight the foods that are fresh and at their peak. He wants Persimmons to be a place for “locals and tourists alike — where they can count on fresh, delicious and local food, whether just getting a beer and appetizer or enjoying lunch or dinner.”

“This year’s slate of contenders includes some of the most innovative and talented chefs in our state. At the showdown, these chefs will use North Carolina ingredients to demonstrate their creativity and shine a light on our incredible hospitality industry. Attendees will get a taste of why North Carolina’s culinary scene is one of the best in the nation,” said NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges.

Selected chefs – sorted into two food categories, savory and sweet – are vying for the 2018 “NCRLA Chef of the Year” and “NCRLA Pastry Chef of the Year” awards. Chefs will prepare and serve tasting-sized portions to event attendees. The dishes, judged by five culinary experts, receive scores on presentation, taste, and use of local ingredients from North Carolina.

The 15 savory chefs are:

The six pastry chefs are:

NCRLA will crown a 2018 “NCRLA Mixologist of the Year,” as six North Carolina distilleries partner with hand-picked bartenders to craft cocktails for guests and judges to enjoy. Distillery and mixologist teams will be announced in the coming weeks.

The NCRLA Chef Showdown presented by Got to Be NC Agriculture is on Monday Aug. 27, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and coincides with the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Expo. For additional information or to purchase tickets to the 2018 NCRLA Chef Showdown, visit www.ncrla.org/chefshowdown/.

Posted in Business, Food, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

April 17th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin
City of New Bern News Release

NBPRArtistinResidenceFLYER.JPGNew Bern Parks & Recreation is looking for artists who need studio space.  The Artist in Residence program offers emerging to mid-range local artists the opportunity to work in an open studio with public interaction.  The open studio space is located at 408 Hancock St., formerly the New Bern Firemen’s Museum.

The open studio space, located downtown, gives artists an opportunity to be a part of a growing art scene and to bring culture and vibrancy to our community.  Artists can apply for a rented studio space by completing an application. If approved, they’ll have access to 96 square feet of space with Wi-Fi access included. Rents are currently charged at $175 per month.  Applications and rental requirements are posted on the city website.

“This is a perfect opportunity and a beautiful open space for artists who want to contribute to the community,” said Foster Hughes, Director of Parks & Recreation. “We’re hopeful that artists with talents in multiple disciplines and media will fill the space with creative expression and a spirit of collaboration.”

The Artist in Residence program also gives renters access to exhibition, teaching, and professional development opportunities. The building is fully handicap accessible and all artists are encouraged to apply.  Applicants must be 18 years of age or older to rent space and a commitment to volunteering through docent services or teaching/workshops for the public and youth groups is strongly encouraged.  Space will be awarded to applicants who best demonstrate commitment to their practice and experimentation and innovation in their work.

If you have questions about the Artist in Residence program, studio accessibility, or would like more information, email Foster Hughes, Director of Parks & Recreation.

Posted in New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Parks and Recreation

March 15th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Site plans are being reviewed for a new, expanded and relocated Brewery 99.

Brewery 99, a micro-brewery off Hancock Street operated by Pete Frey, has submitted plans for a new location on Pollock Street that is about three times larger than its original location.

I’ve reached out to Frey for information about the project and will update this story once I hear back.

Site plan submitted to the city for review.

Posted in Beer, New Bern business and commerce

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