New Downtown Look Envisioned For Berlin

BERLIN – Many of the properties along Pitt Street in downtown Berlin should be redeveloped, representatives of the property owner, the Burbage family, told the Berlin Planning Commission Wednesday night, as they informed the body of preliminary plans for the site.

The property runs between Goober’s Restaurant and the Comcast office, according to resident and builder Ron Cascio, who will work on the redevelopment with the Burbages.

“The family realized that the property is not at its highest value and are considering upgrading it,” Cascio told the Planning Commission.  

Cascio, along with Todd Burbage, met with the Planning Commission Wednesday night.

“We’re really here to see what the Planning Commission has to say.” Cascio said.

Cascio compared the redevelopment of the Pitt Street properties to the redevelopment of Renaissance Plaza and the Atlantic Hotel.

“We want to be the third big redevelopment in town,” said Cascio.

The changes should blend into the historic district, with two- to three-story brick buildings, like the new Taylor Bank branch. “We want people to look and say, that belongs there,” Cascio said.

“If you’re going to do it like Taylor Bank, you can’t go wrong,” said Planning Commission Chair Newt Chandler.

The property will be redeveloped and upgraded in sections, said Burbage.

Office and retail space will occupy the first floor, with office or residential above.

Buildings will be as green as possible, said Cascio.

Current tenants will have the first opportunity to move back in.

Parking could be a problem, said Planning Commission member Pete Cosby.

“That’s going to greatly increase the parking load in town,” he said.

Cascio suggested that now could be the time to start discussing a parking offset fund, like paying fees in lieu into a forestry fund when forestry requirements cannot be met on a property.      

The work will take time, Cascio said, citing the need to do market research, for example, and resolve sewer service issues.

“All through the design process we’ll come back here for things other than approvals,” Cascio said.

“I think you’re thinking the way we’re hoping this town is going to redevelop,” said Cosby.   

“It’s going to be a process. We see this as a process between the town and us,” Burbage said.

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