The City of New Bern has completed renovations to the old garage site in preparation for its new use as a workforce development and training center. The renovation project, located at 114 Rhem Street, was finished ahead of schedule and the building is currently under lease with Craven Community College. City and college representatives did a final walk-through today and city staff handed over the keys to the new tenant.
Originally constructed in 1973, the building was used as a garage and maintenance/repair center as well as a fueling station for city vehicles and equipment. It housed an office, storage room for parts and inventory, restrooms, and a 5,200 square foot garage area. Back then, the City owned approximately 450 pieces of equipment. As the city expanded, staff outgrew the garage and a new one was constructed on city-owned property near the intersection of Neuse Boulevard and S. Glenburnie Road. It officially opened in May 2019. And today, 5 staff work at the new city garage and maintain approximately 750 city vehicles and equipment.
The Rhem Street building is in like-new condition after the renovation project. Most of the work was completed by Public Works staff including repainting the interior; cleaning, refinishing, and replacing floors; removing old concrete; installing new cabinets and countertops in the office; building and installing a new technology room; and designing a new traffic pattern and laying new asphalt for the parking lot. Parks & Recreation staff installed new landscaping. Contractors removed old insulation and installed new throughout the garage area, installed a new canopy, constructed the office and classroom, dug up the old underground fuel tanks and repainted the exterior of the building.
Staff made an interesting observation while working at the site. “During the renovation we found a patch of concrete in the bay where someone wrote the year 1974,” said Matt Montanye, Director of Public Works. “We believe this is when the old grease pit was filled in and the vehicle lifts were installed.”
“I am proud of the team effort by so many departments across this city,” said Montanye. “This was not just Public Works – but Development Services worked with the college on partnership and lease agreements; the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) electric department staff ran new underground electric services to the building; the DPU Water Resources department staff ran new water services to the building; and Parks and Recreation assisted with the landscaping of the building. Everyone came together to see the project through.”
The old city garage will soon become Craven Community College’s Diesel Mechanic and Heavy Equipment Operator Workforce Training Center, an expansion of the Volt Center. “We are proud to once again partner with the community college to bring much-needed skilled jobs and workforce development to New Bern,” said Mark Stephens, City Manager. “Service and technology are critical components for the future of our workforce and this center will provide an essential gateway to employment, skills-building, and educational opportunities for everyone.”
Classes could be ready to enroll by spring 2021.
By Colleen Roberts, Public Information Officer, City of New Bern