Norwich City Council to consider second revitalization bond

Norwich — The City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to hear presentations on Mayor Peter Nystrom’s proposal to seek voter approval for a second economic revitalization bond, possibly totaling $8.5 million, and to expand the incentive program outside the downtown.

Voters approved a $3.38 million downtown revitalization bond program in November 2010 that funded a matching grant program for building upgrades, a lease rebate program to boost building occupancy and a loan program for development. The programs are administered by the Norwich Community Development Corp., the city’s economic development agency.

Nystrom during his 2017 mayoral campaign proposed creating a second revitalization bond and expanding eligible properties outside downtown, possibly into Greeneville and Taftville.

On Tuesday, the council will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. to hear presentations from NCDC President Robert Mills on the status of the remaining money in the 2010 bond and proposals for a new bond package.

Nystrom said no votes will be taken Tuesday but language for the proposed bond referendum must be approved by the council no later than the Aug. 20 meeting to make it on the November ballot for a referendum. Final language must be submitted to the Secretary of the State’s office in early September.

Mills said preliminary plans for the new proposal call for an $8.5 million bond, to be used over 10 years, targeting key neighborhoods, gateways to the city and even “problematic” buildings or properties, such as the former YMCA building on Main Street and the Norwich portion of the former Norwich Hospital property.

The new bond would include a repeat of the matching grant building code correction program and a revised lease rebate program. Mills said the current loan program would not be included, but city officials would work with local banks to ensure that loan funds would be available to developers.

The bond also could continue a fledgling downtown façade, sign and awning program funded through a community development block grant, Mills said.

The concept of targeting troublesome properties could be called a “city-guided development” program to work with property owners to tackle “derelict, abandoned and strategically located properties not being utilized,” Mills said.

On the current bond, Mills said about $1.3 million remains unspent in the three downtown programs but some applications are pending for some of the money.

c.bessette@theday.com

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