Over the past 25 years, the City, Swiss Bear and the Uptown Business & Professional Association (UB&PA) worked to promote the revitalization of the greater Five Points area. This area has the largest concentration of poverty within the four-county labor market, per the 2000 Urban Design Plan housing study. Many vacant and underutilized commercial properties along Broad Street and residential areas to the north and south of Broad Street, west of downtown, are distressed and in need of renovation and/or replacement of substandard housing.
Swiss Bear initiated, helped fund and coordinated the 1990 and 2000 urban design plans. The UB&PA established a small learning and business center. Substantial investment by the City includes the renovation and construction of new housing with block grant money; construction of a new building for the Police Department and Fire Station; the purchase and renovation of the First Citizens Bank for utility services; and funding the underground utilities for the 1.5 mile of major streetscape improvements for Broad Street completed in 2010. However, brownfields assessment, cleanup and redevelopment is needed to create new job opportunities and increase transit opportunities for the community. Housing in good condition needs to be relocated, substandard housing demolished and streets widened with adequate drainage.
The City's commitment to improve the quality of life in the Five Points and surrounding residential neighborhoods led to being a recipient in 2011 of a $175,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who selected New Bern as a Brownfields Area-Wide Planning Pilot Program.
In 2011, the City hired Goody Clancy, Boston, MA who worked with a citizen based steering committee focused on developing realistic and implementation-focused revitalization strategies for both the commercial and residential parts of the study area. The Plan, officially adopted by the New Bern Board of Alderman January 8, outlines a series of core projects and key initiatives with specific action steps. The Plan will facilitate community involvement in Brownfields assessment, cleanup and redevelopment, connect Brownfields reuse to new job opportunities and increase transit opportunities for the community.
It is the intent of the City of New Bern to implement this plan on a project by project basis over a period of years. Current focus is on the corridors to the downtown beginning at the Pembroke exit of Route 70. Key points to be addressed on this corridor are the entrance and upgrade of Lawson Creek Park, based on an Allison Platt Conceptual Plan, and a clean up of the property in and around the First Street Electrical Station.