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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    The Riverbank completion heralds Bank Street revival

    The Tox Brewing Company was open for local and state officials to tour in downtown New London Thursday, June 6, 2024 as High Tide Capital developers touted the completion of its project called The Riverbank. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Max Patinkin, principal of High Tide Capital, speaks about the completion of its project called The Riverbank during an event at Tox Brewing Company for local and state officials who got an early look at the brew pub’s new downtown New London location Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Tox Brewing Company bartenders, right, Jake Weiss and Ryan O’Connell, serve assorted beers while local and state officials get an early look at the brew pub’s new downtown New London location Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Fox Brewing Company owner Michael Zaccaro, right, speaks with fellow owner Dayne Laskey, during an event at their new Tox Brewing Company for local and state officials in downtown New London Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    The pizza and coffee bar area of Tox Brewing Company that was open for local and state officials to tour in downtown New London Thursday, June 6, 2024. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Rendering of the The Riverbank on display at Tox Brewing Company in downtown New London uring a gathering Thursday, June 6, 2024 for High Tide Capital developers completion of its project The Riverbank. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Max Patinkin, principal of High Tide Capital, right, shows retiring New London Fire Chief Tom Curcio (center) the plaque with the history of the Rudd Block and the story of how the New London Fire Department saved the building after a fire two years ago. Mayor Michael Passero is at the left. The plaque was unveiled during an event at Tox Brewing Company for local and state officials in downtown New London Thursday, June 6, 2024. Chief Curcio retires Friday, June 7. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Editor’s note: High Tide Capital has purchased The Day building for a redevelopment project.

    New London ― As Tox Brewing nears completion of its new headquarters in the next few weeks, local and state officials Thursday got a sneak peek at the downtown’s first brew pub at 123 Bank St.

    Meanwhile, High Tide Capital developers announced the completion of its project called The Riverbank that includes 32 mixed-income apartments, a rooftop deck and three retail locations.

    The multimillion-dollar Riverbank project, at 137, 133 and 123 Bank St., was dedicated Thursday to the New London Fire Department and its retiring chief, Thomas J. Curcio, who was first on the scene when a fire broke out two years ago on the top floors at 133-137 Bank St. (the former Jason’s Furniture building).

    Then fire sent thick, black smoke billowing into the January sky and took 90 minutes to get under control as workers had to be evacuated. As soon as he saw the fire, Curcio said Thursday, he called in firefighters from Groton, the sub base and Waterford to help.

    For Curcio, who was scheduled to retire as chief on Friday, the plaque with his name on it came as a complete surprise. But Max Patinkin, one of the High Tide Capital principals along with Dash Davidson, said Wednesday it was well deserved.

    “Today is a real celebration of what this means to Bank Street and our appreciation for the New London Fire Department’s quick response,” Patinkin said in an interview before the event. “We were within minutes of actually losing the buildings.”

    In addition to Tox Brewing Co., the downstairs retail space at The Riverbank is occupied by The Telegraph record store, which relocated from Golden Street. Another restaurant, the 3,000-square-foot Water Street Waffle Co., is expected to open in the final retail location in July. All 32 apartments at The Riverbank are now under lease.

    “This is a big, big moment for the city of New London and especially our downtown business district,” Mayor Michael Passero said during a brief ceremony Thursday at Tox. Addressing High Tide Capital, he added, “The work they are doing in this city is just stunning.”

    Tony Sheridan, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said he remembered touring the building when it was a mess. But Paul Whitescarver, executive director of the regional development agency Southeastern CT Enterprise Region, looked around Thursday and said, “Awesome job everybody. ... You can’t not smile when you come in here.”

    Tox co-owner Mike Zaccaro added, “We started out as idiots home brewing in our garage.” His partner and friend, Dayne Laskey said, ”We never imagined that today we’d be distributed in 23 states.“

    High Tide Capital won a Restoration Award from New London Landmarks in 2022 for its work downtown, including The Riverbank project and its quick rehabilitation of the Manwaring Building at 225 State St., now used as supplementary Connecticut College housing. The Bangor, Maine-based developers paid $650,000 for the buildings on Bank Street and invested millions more into its historic rehabilitation.

    “This historic tax credit project, supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Challenge Grant program, is breathing new life into the middle of Bank Street and helping to usher New London into its exciting future,” according to a High Tide Capital and Tox Brewing release.

    Tox started moving into its new 14,000-square-foot space on Bank Street in February, replacing the former New London Antiques Center. It has been operating out of a 1,400-square-foot building on Broad Street where Jacques Fruit had a long run.

    A downtown destination

    Tox’s owners, Zaccaro and Laskey, say they want their downtown location to become a major brewpub destination in southeastern Connecticut, a community gathering space that also will include a coffee shop and pizza restaurant. While they had hoped to open this month, they now expect the first day of operation to be in the late summer, according to those associated with the project.

    “We really want to have a cool space for people to gather in a very human space,” Tox co-owner Zaccaro said earlier this year.

    The Tox space includes a large bar, small food service area and a stage for musical performances. The coffee shop along one side will have a side entrance, though no furniture has been installed.

    The brewing operation, now fully surrounded by glass, will be able to be seen from the main floor as customers can take in the six-tank fermentation operation and two-tank finishing process in real time. Tox now offers ales, lagers and IPAs, but its bigger tanks in its new location will triple its capacity to make beer, and there will also be a canning operation in the basement.

    Tox is expected to be attractive to nearby Electric Boat employees after work, and another way to keep them in the city for a bit longer, perhaps improving conditions for other businesses nearby. Zaccaro has said he hopes Tox will turn out to be “an anchor business on Bank Street.”

    But Tox is not all about beer. It also plans to create its own sodas at its retro soda fountain. Zaccaro and Laskey want to make Tox a destination for the whole family. The 150-seat operation will include a variety of options, including high tops, low tops, booths, lounge seating with couches and arm chairs.

    Tox’s project architect has been Peter Webster of Austin Design in Brattleboro, Vt., a former nightclub owner in New London at Station 58.

    According to a historic description of the property at 133-137 Bank St. provided by High Tide Capital, it once was occupied by a single-family home in the mid-19th century, but was replaced in 1886 by the Arnold Rudd Company Store, a three-story brick utilitarian commercial building used initially for a wholesale flour, feed and grain business. It later was expanded to four floors and used as a furniture store, and the Bank Street facade was given ornamental details in Classical Revival and Art Deco styles.

    More to come

    The Riverbank project was a big one for High Tide Capital, but may be dwarfed over the next few years by other developments, including one combining The Day building and the former Citizens Bank complex on Eugene O’Neill Drive. Preliminary plans called for a hotel, restaurant and apartments, though nothing official has yet been submitted.

    “This is just the beginning,” Patinkin said of The Riverbank.

    The celebration of The Riverbank completion was held as New London hosted its first event of the summer season, Let Loose Thursday, featuring music, vendors and fireworks at Parade Plaza.

    Patinkin, the High Tide Capital principal, said his company’s next focus will turn to the massive project on Eugene O’ Neill Drive. He said the project will involve creating more than 100 apartments and hotel units, though plans have not yet been finalized because of the long approval process required of the National Park Service to get historic tax credits.

    Patinkin said he expected those projects to be ready to start by later this summer.

    “We see ourselves as stewards of historic assets, bringing them to the modern day,” Patinkin said. “It will be an anchor to that side of downtown.”

    l.howard@theday.com

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