Hotel developer purchases former Norwich Elks Club on Main Street

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Norwich — A Cromwell hotel developer purchased the former Elks Club building, more recently the Majestic Rose restaurant, at 352 Main St. on Wednesday and plans to complete renovations aborted several years ago to create a boutique hotel.

RCN Capital LLC, which took over ownership in 2016 of the vacant 1843 former mansion home of mill mogul John F. Slater, sold the building Wednesday to Ganesha Hospitality LLC for $400,000, according to land transaction records filed in the Norwich city clerk’s office.

Developers Amit Maran and his uncle, Harry Patel, have been looking at the building for several months after they saw it listed on a website featuring business properties for sale, Maran said.

Former owner and developer Janny Lam, who had opened the Majestic Rose Karaoke Club there, had started renovations of the upper floors for a boutique hotel but never completed the project. Lam and her many downtown projects ran into financial difficulties and she either sold or lost properties to foreclosure.

Maran said he has been in the hospitality business and looked for a project that would be a unique boutique hotel, rather than a typical “cookie-cutter” chain franchise. He said he fell in love with Norwich, the growing downtown economy, the city’s designated federal Opportunity Zone, and the prospective major recreation and commercial development by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment at the former Norwich Hospital nearby in Preston was a bonus.

“This is an upcoming city,” Maran said. “There’s a lot of potential to bring in more people, attract more tourists and more business.”

The proposal calls for 30 hotel rooms and a restaurant. Maran said Lam started renovating the second floor several years ago, with new electrical, plumbing and drywall, but he does not yet know what needs to be done and redone with that work.

“We’re still in that process right now,” he said, and there is no project cost estimate yet. He is seeking bids and contacting service companies for estimates.

Maran praised Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills and other city officials who have helped showcase the property, explain the Opportunity Zone and other proposed development in the downtown area.

Mills said the project is “very exciting.” He has been meeting with the developers for the past four months and “talking with them and courting them and showing what we can do as a community.”

“They come across as having good knowledge of what they’re doing, what they’re looking for,” Mills said. “We’re all in on helping them from a city perspective.”

Norwich was approved for three federal Opportunity Zones — areas of low and moderate incomes targeted for development — including one for the downtown area where the former Elks Club building is located. The zones allow investors in development projects to receive federal tax breaks.

The building has been vacant for several years. The Elks Club owned it for a century before selling it to a Waterford development group, which renovated it into the Majestic Rose Dinner Theater. But that group ran into building code violations, and the city shut down the operation. The group sold it to Lam’s Boswell Properties LLC in April 2006. Lam opened the karaoke club.

City Planner Deanna Rhodes said Wednesday she has not met with the developers, but if a hotel is proposed there, it would need a special permit from the Commission on the City Plan.

Maran said he is aware of the permits needed and looks forward to working with city officials to bring the project to fruition.

“The town has been really helpful in getting this project going,” Maran said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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