Concern Over Renovations At New Bern Housing Community

The New Bern Housing Authority voted to move forward with a $25-million dollar housing renovation they say would upgrade one of their affordable housing communities, but the people present at Tuesday night's meeting voiced their concerns about what it could mean for them.

WITN was told at the meeting that Craven Terrace has historical value and can't be torn down without approval from the State Preservation Office.

The process to renovate the property is ongoing, but not everyone believes the current plan is the best one.

Former New Bern Mayor Lee Bettis did not hold back as he left the monthly housing authority meeting Tuesday evening. Bettis is not on board with the $25 million dollar renovation project that commissioner ET Mitchell says would upgrade 360 units in public housing complex Craven Terrace. Mitchell says, "We're trying to bring up historic properties to 2014 standards."

By a vote of 7 to 1 commissioners moved forward with the plans.

Mitchell says master developer Peter Barringer looked at all of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as rental assistance demonstration or RAD financing, available to see if this was the best possible use of their money. After a closed session, the board determined it was.

But Bettis says that isn't true. He says, "It was misleading. It was designed to intimidate the board into spending money on a failed and faulty plan. There's grants out there. There's a million different ways you can renovate this."

And a concern for residents...where will they go once renovations begin.

Mitchell says that in order to do the renovations, tenants would have to be moved to another apartment.

The Housing Authority expects construction of the new Craven Terrace to begin this fall.