Construction on Walt Bellamy Drive housing development could begin by end of October

The New Bern Redevelopment Commission have approved bids to build three homes for a new project on Walt Bellamy Drive.

The New Bern Redevelopment Commission has approved bids for three new homes to be constructed on joined lots at the corner of Walt Bellamy Drive and Jones Street. 

At their October 11 meeting, the RDC approved three separate bids by the same contractor, IMEC Group, which submitted the lowest proposal for each of the planned houses. 

The three projects in question will be single-family homes measuring 800 square feet, 896 square feet, and 792 square feet, for a combined cost of $425,000.

The board approved funding for the projects plus 10% contingency to cover any construction change orders that may be necessary.

Bids were requested from five companies and four responses were received. The next lowest bid came from Scheper & Associates at $480,420 while the high bid was from ELR Construction Services at $557,450. 

RDC Co-Chair Kip Peregoy said in August the RDC’s Housing Working Group worked with City Engineer Jordan Hughes, who was assigned by the city to put together a list of contractors to solicit bids from. After reviewing the bids and listening to conversations Hughes and RDC Chairman Beth Walker have had with the IMEC Group, Peregoy said the Working Group recommended approval of the three bids from the company. 

According to Peregoy, any change orders submitted will be reviewed and approved by Hughes and the RDC executive director. That position has been unfilled since former Director Tharesa Lee resigned from the commission on July 5.

The lots for the planned homes were purchased by the RDC in 2021 for $38,000. Plans to develop the property gained traction in January when Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Aster said plans to build rental units on the lots had been shared with a general contractor, who came back with a price tag of approximately $500,000. 

Local business owner Pete Frey placed an initial bid of $15,000 on the two lots in November 2022. When that offer was rejected, he returned with a new bid of $14,415 and sought permission to build both a single-family home as his residence and a second home to be used as a residential tenant property. That offer was also ultimately rejected by the RDC.

After the commission developed plans to build the rental units on the property, Assistant City Attorney Jaimee Bullock-Mosley revealed in March that the RDC is only allowed to lease property on a temporary basis, effectively derailing the plan. 

The RDC’s final move came in April, when it requested $547,000 of American Rescue Plan funds from the city to develop three small, two-bedroom homes on the Walt Bellamy Drive/Jones Street property for sale to low to moderate income families. The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the money for the project.

In June the RDC directed the BOA to take over the initial bidding process for the planned housing development off of Walt Bellamy Drive.

“This is a process with the city that will allow us to expedite the work on these houses without being caught up in a bunch of red tape and decision making,” Peregoy said at Wednesday’s meeting.

It remains unclear how much the homes will be sold for or what sort of income or other requirements will be necessary for families wishing to purchase them. Based on recent conversations with the company, Peregoy said IMEC Group plans to start on construction of the houses by the end of October and has estimated at least 180 days to finish the project. 

According to the plans provided in the meeting packet, the homes will feature two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a covered front porch with either a concrete or covered patio in back.

An existing concrete driveway on the property will be demolished and removed.

According to the Craven County GIS map, the two lots combined total 0.36 acres. If the property is subdivided into three equal lots for the planned homes, the acreage for each would be approximately 0.12 acres.  

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