Developer backs away from Union Point Park in New Bern

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The Kessler Group and the City of New Bern issued joint statements Tuesday morning on the proposed development of a portion of Union Point Park. Concerns, questions, and complaints began pouring in on social media and through texts, emails and phone calls after last week’s Board of Aldermen meeting in which the Board considered a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Kessler Group.  The MOU was an agreement for the City and the Kessler Group to work together and communicate collaboratively on the prospect of development at three locations, one of which is a two-acre portion of Union Point Park.

Kessler Group email: 

“The Kessler Collection has decided to withdraw our interest in potentially adding a boutique hotel overlooking Union Point Park in New Bern. As a leading and visionary hospitality company, we pursue projects that provide jobs, create additional value and improve public amenities in the communities where we invest. 

We saw Union Point Park as an opportunity to enhance a public asset by upgrading the park’s amenities and adding additional public services. Our intention has always been to engage in a collaborative process with local residents and project stakeholders. We regret that misinformation about this project derailed the planning process and that we did not have the opportunity to fully engage with residents and stakeholders in New Bern.

There are numerous examples — including Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia — where adding these amenities has improved the overall quality and experience of the park itself. We are grateful to City of New Bern officials for their due diligence in analyzing our past and current projects, advocating on behalf of residents and encouraging us to envision projects that will add to the quality of life in New Bern. We will continue to move forward with development plans for the Elk’s Temple, and look forward to adding new jobs, generating positive economic impact and working together in the future.”

Mayor Dana Outlaw’s response by email: 

I appreciate the Kessler Group addressing this issue and I appreciate the voices of the public who provided feedback on this proposed project. Putting this item on the agenda was a decision I did not take lightly, but I knew it was an important step in deciding the future of New Bern. We are thankful to the Kessler Group for their interest in economic development opportunities and quality of life amenities in New Bern. Their portfolio and projects align with community improvement and enhancing natural beauty. I look forward to working with them on future projects.”