Have you been wondering “What’s up with the old Reid (and Hughes Building)?” If you have, it’s probably not the first time you asked that question, as this property has been one of much banter here in Norwich over the past couple of decades. Our best answer at this time is “promise.” Not the noun (i.e., pledge or vow) but rather the adjective from promise: promising, as the future of this building and site looks more promising. How so?
Perhaps the first sign of promise is that the City is re-thinking its plans to demolish the building. In April of 2013, the City hired CLA Engineers to develop a demolition program, which outlined three demolition options, ranging from $574,000 to $797,000. The City Council was ready to act on that report, but felt that there was a need for an assessment of their options, and asked us to assist with that. On August 12, 2013 NCDC delivered an assessment report to the Council the outlined three options for them to consider: do nothing, demolition and rehabilitation(read report here)
This report was a basis for a decision to initiate a third RFP for this building. It looks promising that this could be the last.
This third RFP process proved fruitful as three developers submitted proposals. Proposals ranged from renovating the Reid & Hughes Building to a project with multiple phases and properties. The quality of the proposals presented a real challenge for the Proposal Evaluation Committee (PEC – discussed later). The RFP advertisement provided ranking criteria, along with activities that would help the developers achieve the highest score. This may have appeared to be too much detail at the beginning of the process, but with two quality candidates as finalists it proved to be critical, especially when there was a need to report the findings.
Ultimately, the PEC selected POKO Partners (POKO), of Westchester, New York to be the recommended developer and submitted their report to the City Council on March 17, 2014 (read recommendation here). They also recommended that the City Council transfer property ownership to NCDC to facilitate the redevelopment, regardless of which developer is finally engaged in the project. While POKO was recommended, there is a lot more work that is needed to make this project happen.
This is a project that has a number of moving parts, with various components that have involved various city agencies. Going forward, it will require a continued effort by these various partners to remain engaged in the process and to communicate with the developer and community. The Proposal Evaluation Committee (PEC) included Jim Quarto (Redevelopment Authority (RDA) and city resident), Leland Loose (NCDC, RDA and city resident), Greg Farmer (Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation), Kevin Gremse (National Development Council), Bill Block (City of Norwich and city resident) and Robert Mills (NCDC). Jason Vincent has served as a facilitator of the RFP process and is the ongoing project manager for NCDC. He can be reached at 860.887.6964. What’s Next? Stay Tuned…