Taftville apartment building sold to Rocky Hill developer

Norwich — A large fire-damaged apartment building in Taftville is expected to get new life now that the City Council has approved selling the tax-foreclosed property to a Rocky Hill developer who specializes in restoring such buildings.

The council voted 5-1 Monday to accept the purchase offer by Victor Properties LLC of Rocky Hill for the six-unit building at 482-492 Norwich Ave. for $40,000. The city took ownership of the building in a tax foreclosure in January 2018 for the $28,050 in back taxes owed.

Only Alderman Samuel Browning voted against the sale, saying he would prefer to see the building demolished. But Alderwoman Stacy Gould responded that the building is in the Taftville National Historic District and getting permission to demolish it would be difficult.

The building has been vacant and boarded up since the fire on May 22, 2013, when fire caused heavy damage to a third-floor bedroom, fire and smoke damage to the third floor and water damage to the two floors below.

Stephen Rejniak, a partner with Victor Properties LLC, told the City Council Monday he and his project partner have “a passion for restoring these properties.” He presented the council with before-and-after photos of what he called a very similar six-family, fire-damaged apartment building in Danielson the group renovated three years ago. He said that building was gutted, with only the framing remaining intact.

“In the end, we were able to create a brand new, energy efficient six-unit that had no comparisons in Danielson,” Rejniak said.

He said the Taftville rowhouse, built in 1870 as part of the historic Ponemah Mill village, will need similar work. He said investors have told him the building has “zero value,” but said he disagreed. He said his co-manager on the project has extensive experience with fire-damaged properties.

“The project is going to require a lot of resources and money to get it restored,” Rejniak said, “and I have no doubt I can make that happen, and when I’m done, it will become a source of pride for the city of Norwich and the six families that will end up residing in it.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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