Three development projects proposed for Reid & Hughes Building in Norwich

Norwich - The city received three development proposals for the former Reid & Hughes Building on Main Street Friday, all for mixed commercial and residential projects, including one project from the Norwich Heritage Trust, headed by city Historian Dale Plummer.

Officials at the Norwich Community Development Corp. opened the bid packets Friday, a few minutes after the 4 p.m. deadline. A review committee will examine the bids starting next week and decide which firms should be interviewed.

The group hopes to make a recommendation to the City Council by the council's Feb. 18 meeting, NCDC Vice President Jason Vincent said.

POKO Partners LLC - the New York firm that had planned a stalled major renovation of the decaying Capehart Mill in Greeneville - proposed an $8.4 million project that would encompass surrounding properties with a 113 total apartment units and about 25,000 square feet of commercial space.

Norwich Heritage Trust in partnership with Carter Realty of Hartford proposed renovating the former retail store into 17 housing units and 1,600 square feet of retail space. The proposal cites Carter as the lead developer, and the project would use D'Amato builders & Advisors as the construction manager.

Williamson County Investments Corp. of Austin, Texas also proposed a $6.8 million plan for 21 housing units and 8,500 square feet of retail space.

NCDC President Robert Mills said he was pleased with the responses to the advertisement for proposals. The city has tried several times unsuccessfully over the past decade to find a developer to take on the long-vacant building with roof leaks and interior damage cause by the water.

POKO's plan was the largest in scope, encompassing four nearby buildings not owned by the city. POKO proposed buying the adjacent Strand building - owned by the Lord Family Trust - for $200,000, and also would use the former Norwich Savings Society headquarters at 4 Broadway and two other Lord trust properties at 235 and 225 Main St.

POKO proposed obtaining a $770,000 conventional loan, a $3.74 million grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, federal and state historic tax credits with a combined total of $3.1 million and receiving a city grant of $400,000.

Kathryn Lord, a member of the family trust, attended Friday's bid opening. She declined to comment on the submissions, except to say that Plummer and the Norwich Heritage Trust was the only bidder to contact her.

Plummer, who also attended the bid opening, said the Norwich Heritage Trust started planning to submit a proposal as soon as NCDC advertised the project in fall to ensure there would be at least one viable submission. Plummer said D'Amato brought Carter Realty into the project.

The Heritage Trust project called for obtaining a $970,000 conventional loan and obtaining federal and state historic tax credits totaling nearly $2.4 million and a DECD Housing Trust Fund grant of $2.3 million.

The project would need about $1.1 million in city incentives, all of which were outlined as potentially available in the advertised request for proposals. Those included an $800,000 bond grant from the city and a matching $100,000 building code upgrade grant. The remaining incentives would be in the form of permit fee waivers and a sewer hook-up waiver.

Williamson's proposal was similar in scope to the Heritage Trust plan, totaling $6.8 million for 21 "upscale apartments" with high energy efficiency components. The plan also would require an $800,000 city grant, the $100,000 matching code improvement grant, federal and state historic tax credits totaling $2 million and $3.7 million in DECD program grants.

The committee reviewing the proposals includes city officials and financial and historic restoration experts. Committee members are: Kevin Gremse of the National Development Council, NCDC board member Leland Loose, Brad Schide of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Mills, city Purchasing Agent William Block and James Quarto, a member of the Reid & Hughes study committee that recommended the city seek new proposals.

The development proposals are available for review at the website: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fx6ta0p0acpf8s4/MY9zQgy-xr.

c.bessette@theday.com

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