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Waterfront plans released

By By BARBIE MORSE BURNETTE, Staff Writer
BELHAVEN-Urban designer Allison Platt unveiled blueprints for a new marina and other downtown development at a Monday night meeting in the Boyette Civic Center.
Although Platt's plans included a comprehensive redesign of the entire waterfront area, she explained that it was a 10-year plan and would have to be built in phases.
Platt suggested the town start small and focus specifically on two pieces of property located off Water Street in the downtown area. Platt designed one parcel, currently owned by the town, for mixed-use purposes, which she designated for the construction of condominiums with boat slips, retail businesses and possibly a restaurant.
The other parcel, which is up for sale, was designed for residential use. Platt's designs for that property include town homes with boat slips.
Platt's design also provides for parking along Pamlico Street, but keeps a clear view of the water to attract visitors.
The third phase, Platt explained, should be the construction of the marina.
The marina would include 200 permanent boat slips, a fuel dock, boat launch, shower house, dry storage space, parking, and possibly a hotel and restaurant nearby as well as an additional residential area.
Platt laid out the proposed residential area starting at the N.C. Highway 99 bridge, leaving room for a wetlands area. The marina, the plans show, lies east of the wetlands, along Pantego Creek. Platt's plan also leaves space for future development.
All of the buildings, Platt said, would be elevated on stilts to prevent flooding. She also designed buildings with lots of windows and doors so residents and patrons will have a full view of the water.
Platt also suggests that wood be used for the new construction to complement the town's historic district and uphold its Victorian style.
Her plans also include a bike path and pedestrian walkway along Main Street.
Platt emphasized that the majority of the plan is interchangeable. She explained that although she had drawn the marina on one parcel, it could easily be constructed on an adjacent one, as could other phases of the project.
"I really think this is possible. If you believe in it and talk about it and support it, it will probably happen," Platt said, "And if you don't, then it probably won't."
Platt's plans are based on a report commissioned last year by the town and the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission to determine the feasibility of constructing such a marina.
According to that report, the development potential of a Belhaven waterfront is quite high. Several of the strengths outlined in the report include the towns easy access from the western portion of the state, few competitive high-quality waterfront communities on the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, the high quality of the natural environment, attractiveness of the area for recreational boating, Belhaven's unique situation on the Intracoastal Waterway and the relatively low cost of living and attractiveness to retirees.
"Together, these actions would stimulate an economic renaissance for Belhaven and a revitalization process that can return downtown Belhaven to a prosperous future while honoring characteristics of its historic past. The strategy is to use high-quality waterfront development on three key properties to launch this economic renaissance and downtown revitalization," the report states.
Barbie Morse Burnette may be reached by telephone at 940-4212 or via e-mail at barbie@wdnweb.com.