New hotel part of plans for downtown New Bern

Researchers believe Craven and Front streets would be a good spot for a hotel. (Greg Payne, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Officials have their eyes on helping redevelop under utilized areas in downtown New Bern.

UNC School of government officials were at the New Bern Aldermen meeting Tuesday to discuss areas within New Bern they feel are being underutilized or not taken advantage of. One location they pinpointed was at the intersection of Craven and Front Street, which at the moment they say can be used for a lot more than what it's currently being used.

The UNC School of Government is a city-funded resourced used to research ways to improve New Bern. The group has worked alongside the city, like it has many other locations, for years, pointing out areas that can be developed.

The group initially suggested the intersection of Craven and Pollock streets was in need of development. That idea was put on hold because city officials said residents were not in support of it. Now, researchers believe Craven and Front streets would be a good spot for a hotel.

"The Craven and Front site seemed like a good fit because it'll also be next for the convention center, which could potentially serve as a good synergy there between the convention center, Craven and Front and extending that commercial corridor on Craven Street," said Omar Kashef, project manager for the Development Finance Initiative for the UNC School of Government.

School of Government officials said now it's all up to the board to decide if it wants to proceed. City officials said that decision will be made based on the constitutions.

"If they are on board, we are on board," said Sabrina Bengel, one of the aldermen. "It's a successful project and I want whatever we are going to do to be successful, whether it's in downtown, Five Points, wherever we are going.

"We want to be successful but it's only going to be successful if we bring it to the level of the stakeholders and they have to have by in not after the fact but before we take it out on the streets."

City officials said they are planning on meeting with the area stakeholders to determine whether the recommendations of a hotel can work in the proposed area.

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