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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Norwich looks to purchase blighted, vacant building at Norwich Harbor

    The Norwich City Council will consider purchasing the Marina Towers building at 74-78 W. Main St., shown on Tuesday, May 14, 2024. The entrance to the Marina at American Wharf is at left of the building. (Claire Bessette/The Day)
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    The sign identifying the former Marina Towers building overgrown with weeds on May 14, 2024. The Norwich City Council will consider purchasing the vacant, blighted building at Norwich Harbor. (Claire Bessette/The Day)
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    Norwich ― The City Council on Monday will consider purchasing the long-vacant, blighted former Marina Towers building that blocks a view of Norwich Harbor and obstructs the entrance to the Marina at American Wharf.

    The building, encased in faded pink and white stucco, at 74-78 W. Main St. once housed the office of Congressman Sam Gejdenson, D-2nd District and other offices but has been vacant for about two decades. Overgrown brush, dead trees and crumbled asphalt mar the accompanying parking lot.

    A resolution on Monday’s City Council agenda would authorize City Manager John Salomone to negotiate a purchase and sales agreement at the already agreed price of $350,000 from owner JCM CT Acquisitions LLC, a sister firm to the former marina owner. The marina was sold last year to a Somers couple, Patrick and Brittany Dwyer.

    The council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

    Mayor Peter Nystrom compared the plan to buy the Marina Towers building to the decision in 2021 to acquire the derelict former YMCA building on Main Street to rid the prominent location of blight and foster new development.

    “This has been a long-term goal, and to see it be achieved is very important for the city, because it provides control of the frontage property,” Nystrom said. “It really landlocks the marina.”

    Monday’s resolution does not identify what funding the city will use to make the purchase. Nystrom said the city could use a portion of its American Rescue Plan Act grant reallocated from other intended recipient programs or projects.

    No decisions have been made on whether to demolish the building. Norwich Community Development President Kevin Brown said the first priority is to acquire the property and oversee the cleanup. The building’s structural soundness needs to be assessed as well.

    Removing the building would open the view to the harbor and marina to traffic entering downtown on West Main Street. The building borders the marina driveway, restricting the turning radius and visibility of the entrance.

    The building, listed as constructed in 1850 on city land records, is not listed as historic “in such a fashion as to prevent the alteration, renovation, or demolition of the structure,” the resolution states.

    As with the former YMCA, once the city acquires the property, it would become eligible for state and federal brownfields contamination assessment and cleanup grants. City Director of Planning and Neighborhood Services Deanna Rhodes said if the city agrees to the purchase, she will seek those grants.

    Nystrom said the city would not be proposing any development and any decision about the future of the property, whether to leave it as open space or seek future development proposals would come after the assessment and cleanup.

    The resolution to purchase the property already has bipartisan support, with Nystrom, Democratic Council President Pro Tempore Joseph DeLucia and Republican Alderwoman Stacy Gould listed as co-sponsors.

    Democratic Alderman Mark Bettencourt added his support for the purchase Wednesday night, saying it allows the city to control the destiny of the important city waterfront.

    c.bessette@theday.com

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