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Norwich Hospital deal details released in purchase and sales agreement

By Claire Bessette

Publication: theday.com

Published June 21. 2013 2:00PM   Updated June 21. 2013 11:59PM

Norwich — Thames River Landing LLC of Farmington plans to purchase two parcels on either side of Route 12 at the former Norwich Hospital property in Norwich totaling 49.65 acres for $300,000 and could close on the property within the next 90 days, according to a purchase-and-sale agreement released by the state Friday.

The agreement calls for the Farmington-based company to pay $30,000 at the time the agreement is executed, and the remaining $270,000 when the property closing is held.

The agreement does not address any potential development plans, stating that the property will be sold in its current condition, and that the buyer would assume the responsibility for remediating any contamination per the state Transfer Act.

The parcels included in the sale are a 40.95-acre parcel on the east side of Route 12 at the Preston line that includes a former residential subdivision for hospital employees. On the Thames River side of Route 12, the developer would purchase an 8.7-acre parcel that borders Preston — and includes a tiny portion of one building that mostly stands in Preston — and the former Brewster farm owned by the Mohegan tribe.

Mark Fields, a member of Thames River Landing, reached by The Day Thursday night, said he would not comment on any development plans until the deal is finalized with the state.

The agreement was forwarded on Wednesday to two legislative committees, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Government Administration and Elections Committee. The committees will have 30 days to consider the proposal and have the option to schedule public hearings. If the committees take no action, the agreement would be approved automatically, said state Department of Administrative Services spokesman Jeffrey Beckham said. The agreement then would give another 60 days for the parties to hold the final closing.

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said he spoke to Administrative Services Commissioner Donald J. DeFronzo Friday regarding the pending sale. Nystrom said the city would testify if the legislative committees hold hearings, but he hopes the process would not be delayed any further.

The state first announced it had a potential buyer for two parcels on the Norwich side of the campus in March 2012, and the City Council a week later affirmed that the city was not interested in the property.

Nystrom said he is anxious to see the property placed on the city tax rolls for the first time. He said he forwarded the information to Assessor Donna Ralston to evaluate the property in time for the closing.

Nystrom said since the developer has agreed to pay $300,000 and has had 18 months since his initial offer, the buyer must be aware of the environmental cleanup issues. Nystrom said Norwich would rely on the Transfer Act state law requiring the developer to clean the property.

Preston officials, too, are very interested in any potential development on the land that borders the town's 393-acre former Norwich Hospital property on the Preston side.

Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon said his main concern is seeing the Norwich portion cleaned up to prevent its continued deterioration from harming Preston's redevelopment efforts.

Thames River Landing in 2010 submitted a proposal to Preston that covered the entire campus in both towns. That plan called for a mixed commercial, residential and recreational complex that included an equestrian events center.

"We're pleased to know who it's being sold to, and we look forward to seeing if we can work together," Preston Redevelopment Agency Chairman Sean Nugent said.

The 2010 plans for the Norwich portion of property called for a bio-tech research facility with laboratory buildings and a manufacturing center. The developer proposed connections with the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus.

Nystrom said he does not know what Thames River Landing might have in mind now, but he would like to discuss the earlier plan with the developer.

c.bessette@theday.com

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