EB purchases two Eastern Point homes, in discussions with other homeowners

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Groton — Electric Boat has purchased two homes on Eastern Point Road, and is in various stages of discussions with seven other homeowners, as part of the company's efforts to ease the concerns of neighbors who will be most directly impacted by its $850 million expansion plans.

"We've had a positive response from most of the homeowners," Maura Dunn, vice president for organization and facilities development, said by phone late last week. "In some cases, they want to talk about how long they can live in the house. Others are asking how fast they can get to settlement or are talking with advisers."

Dunn said no decisions have been made about what to do with the homes, and that the focus is on addressing the concerns surrounding construction.

The majority of the expansion, the result of a boost in submarine production, is happening in the south end of the shipyard. A new facility will be built there to assemble a new class of ballistic-missile submarines. The facility is expected to be about the same size as the iconic green building on the waterfront where attack submarines are being built. EB is in the design and permitting phase for the project, with construction expected to begin later this year.

EB largely has been unaffected by the partial government shutdown but is waiting on feedback from the Environmental Protection Agency on a permit filed with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Given the timeline for the project, the company is concerned that if the shutdown extends much longer, it could slow down the permitting process.

In early November of last year, EB made offers on 11 homes on Eastern Point Road, its way of extending an olive branch to address concerns from neighboring homeowners. Homeowners have said they are worried about their property values going down, losing their view of the Thames River and New London, and the noise and congestion that come with living next to an active construction site.

The company has purchased the two homes on either end of the stretch. Of the 11 homes, two are rental properties. Six of the homeowners are either current or former EB employees.

The company purchased 224 Eastern Point Road, an unoccupied building adjacent to one of its parking lots, for $97,500 at an auction in August 2018. The property, which EB previously owned, also was owned for a period of time by Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Southeastern Connecticut.

EB purchased 306 Eastern Point Road for $195,000. The sale was recorded on Nov. 9, and the assessed value of the home was $186,060, according to land records from the Town of Groton.

Two homeowners have indicated they do not intend to sell.

One of them is Frank Ricci, a retired engineering supervisor who worked at the company for 34 years. He has lived for 45 years at 276 Eastern Point Road with his wife, who currently works at EB. Ricci said he enjoys living in an area where the neighbors all get along, and with picturesque views of the Thames River. Ricci said he and his wife still think they will have some type of view — toward the south — even after the expansion is complete.

Plus, with the money spent on additions to their home, "we'd never get it back" by selling it, Ricci said by phone Monday afternoon.

While the individual offers themselves differ depending on the size of the home and the lot, these same terms were offered to all homeowners: a tenant improvement fee, which is over and above the fair market value of the home, and if an owner accepts, he or she can stay in the home for up to two years after it's purchased.

Several homeowners have told The Day that they think EB's offer is lower than the value of their home.

The offers were calculated by real estate professionals, who referred to recent sales of comparable properties in the area, as well public information about the properties. Owners are able to get estimates by two licensed appraisers, and submit those to EB for recalculation, if they believe the offer undervalues the home.

j.bergman@theday.com

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