New Bern Housing Authority dodges legal action, for now

New Bern Housing Authority dodges legal action

NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - Evergreen developers aren't happy with delays in the Craven Terrace project. They gave the New Bern Housing Authority until September fifth to approve the project or face legal action.

The Housing Authority held an emergency meeting Thursday to find a solution before the holiday weekend. Housing Authority Chair ET Mitchell said developers asked for immediate approval of the current plans and specifications for the project.  

"There's tension between the two. Developers want to move forward, and the housing authority wants to put enough thoughtful and considerable deliberations to make sure they are the right ones," Mitchell said.

The housing authority plans to remodel kitchens and bathrooms among other things in 319 units at Craven Terrace and add a new sewer system.

However, some community members said it sounds like they're only patching up the problem and not fixing it.

Della Reed said they should completely start over on the public housing complexes.

"I'm not asking for designer this or designer that inside of a home. I just want to have standard living conditions," Reed said.

She said the public housing complexes are too crowded.  "In other communities, it's not as dense as this. People work together, and it's mixed income," Reed said.

Reed said she's fighting hard for Craven Terrace's changes because she feels it will set the standard for public housing in New Bern.

"By them re-building, re-modeling, and changing this whole look - that will change how people view this area and how people view public housing as a whole," Reed said.

Developers said the Housing Authority has had five months to approve the proposed plan, which they think is long enough.

Thursday's emergency meeting lasted several hours. The first half of the meeting was open to the public. The council held a closed meeting for about an hour to talk about their legal options.

Mitchell said they're asking developers for more time.

"They were asking for the immediate approval of the plans and specifications and we are asking to make additional modifications and changes," Mitchell said.

The Housing Authority agreed on the following requirements:

  1. Allow evaluation of the plans and specs, including ratification and approval of the proposed central laundry facility installation, the deletion of all dishwashers, washers and dryers from the dwelling units into 4 bedrooms, 2-bath dwelling units
  2. Amend the Annual Plan and take such other actions as may be required to move forward to obtain HUD approval for the demolition and disposition of the 42 dwelling units as provided in the revitalization program
  3. Extend the option to lease until June 20, 2015
  4. Determine how much the Authority can pay to the NC Housing Finance Agency Allocation Fees. Total cost is $170,000 which will be reimbursed at closing
  5. Make payment of all outstanding accounts payable with respect to the Project
  6. Authorize the Housing Executive Director and attorney to take all necessary action to fulfill the Authority's commitment to the Project, and direct the Executive Director timely to perform all such actions.

Mitchell said it's up to the developers now to decide if they'll agree to give the Housing Authority more time

The cost to renovate each unit is around $48,000, but when you factor in sewer upgrades and other infrastructure improvements, the cost of the entire project adds up to more than $27 Million.

The developers, Evergreen Partners, have agreed to pay for any additional costs over what they quoted the New Bern Housing Authority.

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