New Bern RDC votes to give health and wellness center property, funding back to city

Empty lots designated for the Health and Wellness Center on Bloomfield Street.
Empty lots designated for the Health and Wellness Center on Bloomfield Street.

The New Bern Redevelopment Commission has requested that property set aside for a new health and wellness center be turned back over to the city along with funding earmarked for the project. 

During the RDC’s June 28 special called meeting, the board voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution requesting to convey the three Bloomfield Street lots back to the City of New Bern along with $350,000 in allocated funds it received from the city for construction costs.

Not present for the vote were Chairman Tharesa Lee, who has resigned from the commission effective July 5, Vice Chairman Kip Peregoy and Commissioner Steve Strickland.  

The resolution stipulates that once the property is conveyed back to the city, it will be used and operated “solely as a health care, wellness, or community facility.”  

The move comes following a recommendation from the RDC’s Health and Wellness Center Work Group that was presented to the board at their June 14 meeting. Commissioner Sharon Bryant read a report from her fellow Commissioner Tabari Wallace stating that the working group was advising the board to return the funding for construction costs and convey the property to the City of New Bern with the restriction that it be used for the health and wellness center. 

“The city has the resources to build and construct the facility more efficiently than the commission currently can,” Wallace wrote in his report. “The city can rent the building to healthcare partners…whereas the RDC cannot.”

During that meeting, Assistant City Attorney Jaimee Bullock-Mosley said she believed the deed restriction would limit usage of the Bloomfield Street property to a health and wellness center.

At Wednesday’s special called meeting, Wallace explained that the RDC had initially set out to develop plans and bid out the health and wellness center work on its own with the assistance of outside partners. After discussion with the city about its recent Pleasant Hill Community Center project, however, Wallace said he was convinced turning the work over to the city was the right move.

“The city had all of the resources and facilities to get it done and in a quicker timeframe so we could break ground a lot faster,” he told the board. “We had the money, we had everything going on…but this was a pathway forward that would expedite this process.”

Wallace said he was reassured by the stipulation that the property would still be used for the development of the planned health and wellness center.

“I think this is the best way moving forward as long as we have the conveyance and guarantees that we discussed,” Wallace commented. 

The request will now go before the New Bern Board of Aldermen for consideration. 

Plans for a 3,150 square feet health and wellness center with 16 parking spots located at 908, 910, and 914 Bloomfield Street were approved by the RDC in November, 2022. The board also approved a resolution for the demolition of a house located on the property. 

Last May, Wallace told the board he was hoping to break ground on the new building by June 30, and that specifications and schematics had been completed.

As of this week, no timeline has been announced for when the project might get underway. 

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.