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Mattern Construction submits lone proposal to rehab former YMCA in Norwich

Norwich — George and Eric Mattern have been familiar with the YMCA on Main Street for many years, from the days when the father and son were members to their recent visits to see if the decaying building complex could house the new headquarters for their Mattern Construction firm.

Mattern Construction, based in Baltic, submitted the lone proposal to the city by last week’s deadline to rehabilitate the decaying, mold-infested former YMCA into a new headquarters for the general contracting and management company. The proposal includes a plan to lease space the company does not need to a possible brew pub or some residential housing, company vice president Eric Mattern said.

The city took ownership of the long-vacant building in July and put out a request for proposals from parties interested in trying to save all or part of the complex. If no one responded, city officials planned to demolish the building and market the property.

Eric Mattern said the company started looking at the YMCA as a potential headquarters as soon as the city took ownership. Once the city advertised for proposals, the Matterns twice sought access to the building, including looks at the interior before submitting the plan.

“It’s a property that has been hidden in plain sight for the city,” Eric Mattern said. “It’s a gateway entering the city from the east.”

Eric Mattern and Lucas Girard, director of business development for the company, put together the proposal that calls for creating a new headquarters for Mattern Construction.

“In our opinion, the whole Olympic pool building can be saved, and the main building and the racquetball building,” Eric Mattern said, “and the rest should be demolished.”

But only the shells of the building would be retained, Eric Mattern said. The pool would be filled in and that building used as a warehouse and equipment storage for small equipment. The company has an off-site location for larger equipment and construction vehicles, he said.

Mattern said the company does not yet have a cost for the renovations and relocation, except that it would be “a multimillion project,” Mattern said. The company hopes to qualify for the new economic development revitalization grant and loan programs being administered by the Norwich Community Development Corp.

Mattern also hopes the city can use federal Environmental Protection Agency grants to assist with the cleanup.

Norwich Purchasing Agent Bob Castronova said Mattern was the only firm that has expressed interest in the property throughout the advertising period and the only entity to attend a pre-submittal examination of the building. Castronova said he forwarded the company’s proposal to the Planning and Neighborhood Services Department and to the city engineer.

“We’re excited about the possibility of our concept becoming a reality,” Eric Mattern said, “and we’re just waiting to hear from the city. Our whole goal is to create a lot of excitement for the city.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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