New hotel planned for downtown New Bern granted special use permit

A special use permit has been granted for the development of a new hotel in the Harvey Mansion building in downtown New Bern.

Plans for a new hotel in downtown New Bern cleared an important hurdle this week with the approval of a special use permit by the city’s Board of Adjustment. 

The board unanimously approved the permit during their May 30 meeting for The Harvey, a planned three-story hotel to be located in the old Harvey Mansion building at 221 S. Front St.

The application for the special use permit was made by Darden J. Eure of MBF Architects. The proposed plan was conditionally approved by the city’s Development Review Committee on May 10. 

According to the city’s Land Use Ordinance, since the property lies within a C-1 zoning district, which typically allows for only neighborhood commercial activities and small-scale freestanding businesses, a special use permit was necessary to allow for hotel usage.

In order to issue the permit, the board was required to find that the new business: will not materially endanger the public health and safety; will not substantially reduce the value of adjoining or abutting property; will be in harmony with the character of the particular neighborhood or area in which it is to be located; and will be in general conformity with the land use plan.

The Harvey Mansion building, which dates back to the 1770s, is being refurbished by Heron Hospitality, which purchased the property in December 2020 for $500,000. The building has sat vacant for several years, having most recently served as home to the Harvey Mansion Historic Inn & Restaurant and the Circa 1801 Bar. 

According to Heron Hospitality CEO Charles Cushman, The Harvey will be a 10-room boutique hotel with an enclosed courtyard, several private balconies, luxury furnishings and modern conveniences.

Restoration is currently underway on the building’s interior and exterior after electrical and other work was completed earlier this year. 

Emily Sigmon, associate architect with MBF Architects, said the hotel will feature 12 parking spaces in the building’s rear lot that adjoins the DoubleTree Hilton parking area to the south. As a stipulation added by the board, an easement must be properly recorded within 60 days of the issuance of the special use permit to allow egress out of The Harvey parking lot into the adjoining lot.

According to Sigmon, the building’s basement will be used for storage only and there are no plans for dining or food service in the facility. 

Sigmon said she is working with the New Bern Historic Preservation Commission to maintain the historic character of the building.

Heron Hospitality was co-founded by Cushman and Gary Curry, whose first projects were the rebranding of the Pony Island Inn in Ocracoke in 2021 and the Comfort Inn University hotel in Wilmington the following year. 

Cushman currently sits on the board of Swiss Bear, Inc. and serves as vice chairman of Craven County’s chapter of the North Carolina Community Foundation. 

Curry is the former general manager of New Bern’s Hampton Inn. He served as chairman of the Craven County Tourism Development Authority and sits on the board of Swiss Bear. 

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