NCDC approves grant to downtown Norwich developer

Norwich — The first maximum downtown revitalization building code upgrade grant was awarded Tuesday to the owner of a commercial building at 54-56 Broadway to augment the $305,850 the developer already has invested in the project.

The Norwich Community Development Corp.’s Code Correction Review Committee Tuesday approved an $85,000 matching grant to the UZ-MAH ownership firm. The new grant was added to the initial $15,000 approved in April for the project, bringing the city’s grant to $100,000 — the maximum allowed in the code improvement grant program.

NCDC Vice President Jason Vincent said this is the first full $100,000 grant awarded under the city’s $3.38 million downtown revitalization program approved by voters in 2010.

The grant is distributed as a reimbursement to the owner after the work is completed, Vincent said.

“It really helps me a lot,” owner Zubair Kahn said Tuesday. “Without that grant, I couldn’t even finish the building. We had so many issues with the building, code-wise: electrical, plumbing, heating. I opened a can of worms when I started the project.”

According to Kahn’s grant application and NCDC’s review report, a contractor in the early stages of construction discovered structural problems that would have to be corrected first. When the contractor removed interior walls to correct the structural problem, he discovered additional problems with electri cal and ventilation systems.

“The building has multiple layers of code violations,” the report said.

The city fire marshal said the entire electrical system would have to be replaced. City building inspectors had condemned the building under the previous ownership, citing illegal electrical work done without permits.

Kahn’s firm bought the building in March 2011 for $118,000.

Kahn estimated renovations will be completed in April, and the building will have four apartments — two one-bedroom units and two three-bedroom apartments — in the top three stories and a 1,360-square-foot retail or office space at street level on Broadway.

Kahn thanked NCDC staff and city inspectors for helping to guide him through the renovations needed for the building.

“The town of Norwich really was a big help,” Kahn said. “They guided me through the whole thing.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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