Two downtown Norwich properties heading to tax foreclosure auctions

Norwich — Two historical properties at opposite ends of downtown are slated to go to tax foreclosure auctions: the former Elks Club mansion at noon Saturday and the former Chelsea Landing Pub on Water Street scheduled for auction Aug. 13.

Both properties recently were owned by downtown developer Janny Lam, who undertook extensive renovations in each building.

Lam had hoped to market the vacant former Chelsea Landing Pub at 86-92 Water St. for a steakhouse after completing major structural repairs.

The Elks Club at 352 Main St. had operated as Majestic Rose Karaoke Club.

Both are being sold through tax foreclosure auctions ordered by judges in New London Superior Court.

RCN Capital LLC, which holds a $600,000 mortgage on both properties, also is foreclosing for the defaulted mortgage.

In June, RCN paid $47,104 to the Norwich tax collector on the Elks bulding, but city officials said it didn't erase the entire back tax bill.

New July tax bills for both properties went unpaid by Monday's deadline, Tax Collector Karlene Deal said Tuesday.

Attorney Aimee Wickless, handling the foreclosures for the city, said the taxes owed on the former Elks Club totaled $13,344, not including auction fees and the new July bill.

The amount owed on the former Chelsea Landing building was $32,544, not including the July bill and auction fees.

The former Elks Club, built in 1843 as the mansion home of mill mogul John F. Slater and expanded in 1914, is listed as a top priority for historic preservation in a 1992 survey of downtown Norwich properties.

The Elks Club owned the building for a century until 2003, when the club decided it could no longer afford to maintain the historic structure.

The Elks sold it to Waterford development group Bronx Bombers LLC, which renovated it into a dinner theater. The city closed down that operation for building code violations, and Lam's Boswell Properties LLC purchased the building for $695,000 in April 2006 with plans to create a boutique hotel and karaoke bar.

Lam turned over ownership to another of her firms, Sunford Properties and Development LLC, in April 2011.

Potential bidders Saturday can examine the former Elks building from 10 a.m. to noon, but interior access might not be available, according to a staff person for attorney James L. Young, committee of sale.

“I would like someone to purchase it at the auction, a developer,” said Mayor Deberey Hinchey, who toured the residential neighborhood behind the Elks building July 9 with city officials and residents. “It's a beautiful building. It's a gateway. If someone could get it and really do some renovations, it could be a beautiful.”

The 1741 former Chelsea Landing building is considered the oldest and last surviving colonial-era waterfront commercial building and once sat at the edge of Norwich Harbor. Its colonial-era owners ran a distillery. An original deed allowed the owner a right of way to roll hogshead barrels from the wharf to the building.

The modern-day Chelsea Landing Pub and restaurant was condemned in April 2004 after a city inspection revealed sagging walls, a rotted and leaky roof, rotted structural beams and holes in the kitchen floor.

Lam purchased it for $72,000 in 2005 and completed structural renovations, but never secured a restaurant tenant. She turned over ownership to Kwok L. Sang of Great Neck, N.Y., in 2011.

The Chelsea Landing building tax foreclosure auction is slated for noon on Aug. 13, with a viewing period from 10 a.m. to noon on the premises.

c.bessette@theday.com

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