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Director of company intending to buy former hospital site in Norwich dies

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published August 07. 2013 4:00AM

Norwich - The managing director of a limited liability company that plans to purchase the Norwich portion of the former Norwich Hospital property has died, but the LLC plans to go ahead with the purchase, his development partner said Tuesday.

Ronald A. Shelton, 58, of Burlington, owner and CEO of Society Financial Corp. of Farmington, died July 20, an obituary published July 23 in The Hartford Courant said.

Shelton was the managing director of Thames River Landing LLC, the firm that has reached an agreement with the state Department of Administrative Services to purchase the 49.65 acres of the former Norwich Hospital property in Norwich for $300,000.

Mark R. Fields, a member of the LLC, said Shelton died of a heart attack while cutting the lawn at his Burlington home. "It's a big shock," Fields said. "Right now, we're just trying to catch our breath and get through this thing."

Fields said Shelton's death will not delay the sale and that finances for the deal already are in place. "We're just going to be one member shy," he said.

Thames River Landing paid a non-refundable deposit of $30,000 a year ago. The remaining $270,000 by wire transfer or bank check at the closing. The closing is to be held 60 days following final state approval of the sales agreement.

Editor's note: This version corrects an earlier version.

Fields said he has been interested in the former Norwich Hospital property for the past nine years, and Shelton has been working with him for the past six years.

Shelton had told the General Assembly's Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Government, Administration and Elections Committee in successive meetings June 27 that the LLC planned to develop the property with tourism attractions to take advantage of the proximity to the region's two casinos and the state's renewed emphasis on tourism.

The sale was approved by the two legislative committees, and a proposed purchase-and-sale agreement is in the final stages of review by the state Attorney General's office and DAS. Spokesmen at both agencies said the Attorney General's office had completed its review and requested "technical" changes in the contract language by DAS, which currently is working on those changes.

The technical issues did not involve Shelton's death, said Susan Kinsman, spokesman for the Attorney General's office, and are not expected to delay the sale.

DAS spokesman Jeffrey Beckham said the agency was informed of Shelton's death and also that the LLC plans to proceed with the purchase of the Route 12 property.

"We will be working on the details, and we don't expect this to have an effect on the sale," Beckham said. "We've been working on some details with the Attorney General's office, and as soon as those are completed, we can proceed with the closing."

The secretary of the state's business directory lists Society Financial Corp. as the managing member of Thames River LLC, with Society's business address of 376 Main St., Farmington, as the LLC's address. Fields is listed as a member of the LLC.

Shelton's Society Financial Corp.'s phone number now is disconnected.

Society Financial Corp.'s business filing lists Shelton as president and treasurer and Anna Valente - described in the obituary as "his loving partner" - as the company secretary.

Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom said he has not been contacted by Thames River Landing LLC on the pending purchase or Shelton's death.

"The city hopeful that the LLC goes forward with the sale," Nystrom said Tuesday. "We are sorry for the loss of the principal, and offer our condolences."

c.bessette@theday.com

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