Details emerge on New Bern Redevelopment Commission’s deal with Housing Authority

Properties owned by the Redevelopment Commission on Walt Bellamy Drive in New Bern, NC. (NBN Photo)
Properties owned by the Redevelopment Commission on Walt Bellamy Drive in New Bern, NC. (NBN Photo)

The New Bern Redevelopment Commission made changes to the “Walt Bellamy Project” houses at the request of the New Bern Housing Authority, according to the NBHA interim executive director.

The deal came to light during the Redevelopment Commission’s meeting on June 12, 2024 when Reginal Barner, the interim executive director, asked the board “to allow us enter into an agreement with you all” to purchase the three properties on Walt Bellamy Drive in New Bern, NC.

The commission voted unanimously to allow Barner and Zeb Hough, RDC executive director, to negotiate a contract and present it to the board.

Barner said the houses would initially be rented to section 8 tenants and eventually be used to create homeownership for low-wealth families.

The two-bedroom, one bath houses were built with American Rescue Plan Act funding that was allocated to the RDC by the City of New Bern.

Barner asked the Redevelopment Commission to consider selling the properties for $164,000 each. He said the houses were appraised at $162,000 each.

The appraisals were discussed at length during the April 10 meeting. At that time, the appraisal prices were between $160,000 and $163,000.

On May 8, Zeb Hough told the board there was “a little snag in the financing.”

He said changes were made after “financing had closed out the project” and they would recoup the costs after selling the properties.

Commissioner Kip Peregoy asked why the board had to pay the money out of their “general fund if that money was already allocated or supposed to be allocated?”

Hough said, “The appropriation covered the construction” and noted the report was made before the final invoice.

“It is inconsequential. The change order amount will be covered by the purchaser,” he said.

He said the amount was “slightly under $8,000, so in the grand scheme of the whole project, it wasn’t a major consequence.”

Commissioner Jimmy Dillahunt asked, “What were the change orders?”

Hough said after talking with the contractor, they decided to change the flooring from linoleum to vinyl planks and tile in the restrooms.

“We upgraded (attic access doors)…from just a board to an actual door that can be secured,” he said.

Last night, Reginal Barner disclosed that the changes were made at the request of the housing authority.

“We had a discussion with the builder, because we had an interest, he made some minor modifications and we’re willing to incur that cost in the purchase price because it wasn’t part of your original plans and specs. It resulted in a higher price, potentially from a sales standpoint,” Barner said.

Also on April 10, the board had a lengthy discussion about the upset bid process and other things related to the sale.

Peregoy said, “We have talked over a long period of time about making contact with different nonprofit agencies regarding these houses. What is the status of that?

“A lot of interest, unfortunately, until these houses are placed on a sellable list, no offer can be engaged in,” Zeb Hough said.

Peregoy said, “We can’t negotiate it without them being on the sellable list?”

“That is correct…If they’re not for sale for the general public, because they’re public property, they’re not for sale for anybody,” Hough said.

The upgrades to the houses were made prior to the properties being added to the sellable lots list on May 6.

It appears that the Redevelopment Commission and the NBHA have been negotiating for some time.

According to a report dated April 19, RDC staff met with the NBHA and “First Citizens Bank to discuss the potential purchase of these units. The assistant city attorney and the housing authority’s attorney are working on a potential request to be presented to the Redevelopment Commission.”

On June 12, the RDC unanimously voted to “direct staff to work with the housing authority to begin negotiations” and return with a contract” for the board to review.

Reginal Barner said he will present his request to the Housing Authority on June 17, but the meeting details are not available on their website. reached out to the NBHA and RDC, but did not receive a response by press time.

Video recordings of city meetings are available on City 3 TV here.

By Wendy Card, editor. Send an email with questions or comments.

Related article: New Bern Redevelopment Commission puts properties up for sale