Brick plant revamp is key to city’s future

March 2, 2012

By Contributor

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Talk to anyone with a vested interest in the potential redevelopment of Newcastle’s Mutual Materials brick plant site and you’ll hear the same word time and again — opportunity.

It’s no exaggeration that as the city faces a $300,000 shortfall in 2013, and similar deficits in coming years, the redevelopment of this critical Coal Creek Parkway property may have an unprecedented impact on Newcastle for years to come.

With redevelopment comes the potential for much-needed revenue in the form of real-estate excise tax, sales tax, permitting fees, impact fees, review fees and any combination thereof.

Simply, this project matters.

It must be done efficiently, competently and in a way that benefits Newcastle. With this much at stake, it must be done right.

With a 52-acre site and a developer that has been in the community for more than 50 years and seemingly wants what’s best for the city, Newcastle arguably won’t have a chance like this again.

Starting with leadership from the top, including the City Council, city staff, city commissions and the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce, officials must be on the same page with a vision for this area’s future.

Now is the time to have big-picture discussions about how to highlight Newcastle’s amenities to bring in new business, review municipal codes that may apply to the project and dedicate the necessary resources — time, money, staff — to facilitate the process.

If work on this project is contracted out, and it very well may be, the city must make sure those contracted agencies have a good understanding of Newcastle’s development regulations, design guidelines and building codes to save time and money, as well as limit potential frustration between the developer and the city.

Mayor Rich Crispo said in his State of the City address that the city of Newcastle is open for business. There has never been a better moment to ensure he is right.

Opportunity is officially knocking in the earliest stages of this redevelopment process.

Nothing matters more than how Newcastle opens the door.

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