Proposed Reid & Hughes renovation in Norwich receives $500,000 grant

Norwich — A plan to renovate the former Reid & Hughes building on Main Street received a boost Friday with the announcement of a $500,000 affordable-housing grant by FHLBank Boston that included a pledge that Chelsea Groton Bank will provide an additional construction loan.

FHLBank Boston announced $5.95 million in affordable-housing program initiative grants to projects in five Connecticut cities with 147 total housing units.

The Massachusetts-based Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development took ownership of the Reid & Hughes building from the city of Norwich in July during the institute's $500,000 stabilization of the structure in advance of seeking financing for the proposed $6 million renovation into 20 affordable-housing units and commercial space in the Main Street storefront. Ten units are targeted for veterans.

“The location is a prominent intersection and part of a long façade of unbroken historic buildings deemed critically important to the fabric of downtown Norwich,” the FHLBank Boston news release stated. “A partnership of five different funders provided construction financing for the stabilization which made it safe for the next phase of construction to proceed. The roster of funders for the stabilization phase is an indication of the wide and deep community support for this project. There is a high level of coordination with Veteran Affairs and other social services. Chelsea Groton Bank will provide additional construction financing.”

Lori Dufficy, executive vice president at Chelsea Groton Bank, said bank officials could not yet comment on possible future financing for the project. She said bank officials are “well aware” of the renovation plan for the Reid & Hughes building, and the bank “is very committed to downtown Norwich.”

Chelsea Groton recently announced a second year of $100,000 in grant funding to Global City Norwich to promote the city’s growing multicultural population and to help entrepreneurs develop business plans and open storefront businesses in downtown.

Christine Rogers, senior development manager for the Women’s Institute and project manager for the Reid & Hughes development, could not be reached for comment Friday.

City Historian Dale Plummer, a strong proponent of the project and leader of a local effort to save the building from planned demolition by the city, welcomed the Boston bank’s announcement.

“It was like a slightly belated Christmas present,” Plummer said Friday, “very much appreciated.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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