Capano brothers buy Thames Plaza office building in Norwich

Norwich – With an offer that was one penny above the city's bid to cover back taxes, interest and legal fees, brothers Scott and Kenneth Capano Jr. today took ownership of the Thames Plaza office building at 101 Water St.

Scott Capano, whose family owns the Harp & Dragon Irish Pub and local Shop Rite supermarket stores, was the only registered bidder at the tax foreclosure auction and also was the only person to tour the building during a two-hour open house prior to the auction.

Capano bid $219,002.01 after attorney Aimee Wickless bid $219,002 to cover the total debt owed to the city. The building and its parking deck, which overlook Norwich Harbor across from the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park, is assessed at $1 million on the city's tax records. During the foreclosure proceeding, the building was valued at $700,000.

The building had been owned by Norwich Harbor View Corp., a company owned by Norwich businesswoman Janny Lam. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation held a $1.4 million mortgage on the property, but representatives from the tribe did not attend the auction.

Scott Capano said after the auction that he and his brother plan to form a limited liability company that will own the building.

"We have some ideas, but we don't have any specific plans yet," Scott Capano said. "We'll look for office tenants."

He said the building is "almost" move-in ready. It needs some plumbing and roof work and the Capanos plan to improve the look of the 1986 building – possibly including changing the concrete exterior to better match historic downtown surroundings.

"It looks kind of dreary now," Capano said.

Robert Mills, president of the Norwich Community Development Corp. and Alderwoman Sofee Noblick immediately congratulated Capano on his purchase.

Mills said the building qualifies for the three downtown revitalization incentive programs, which include a combination of grants and loans to do building upgrades and secure tenants.

"I'm glad that we got someone who is willing to take properties and do something with them," Mills said.

The Capanos purchased one rundown building at 130 Main St. and renovated that to house the popular Harp & Dragon pub and later purchased an adjacent building to expand the pub. The family also purchased a third building in the block, which is undergoing renovations.

c.bessette@theday.com

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