NORWICH’S STANLEY ISRAELITE BUSINESS PARK

The Stanley Israelite Business Park is a 450-acre business site located on the western side of the City.  It was envisioned early 1960’s as a modern industrial park.  Over the summer NCDC conducted interviews across the tenancy of Norwich’s Stanley Israelite Business Park in order to stay current with the businesses and to assess needs of the park overall.  We assembled a final report on the status of the park which you can see it here: CLICK HERE.  NCDC is proud to have played such a significant role to the contribution of the economy in Norwich over the last 50 years thorough the Business Park.  Some of you may recall that the Park has been labeled “the park on the hill where only billy goats work.”  Well, land is indeed hard to come by in Norwich and the Business Park may have less than ideal topography however, this is a perfect example of an absolutely fantastic success.  Here’s why we should all be proud of the businesses in the Park:

  • Businesses in the Park generate approximately $520,000,000 in revenues (self-reported)
  • The Park uses approximately 2% of Norwich’s land area (450 / 17,920 acres), yet the Park:
    • accounts for 8% of employment in Norwich (1,924 / 22,177)
    • accounts for 5% of the tax revenue for Norwich ( $3,196,079 / $66,134,833)
    • accounts for approximately 23% of utility revenue payments to Norwich ($1,474,000 / $6,250,494)
    • provide approximately $91,000,000 in average purchasing power within the region

 

New Opportunity

Now, for the first time in 35 years, due to some recent actions, the Business Park has room to grow, opening up new land for development.  In 2013 Dominion decided to site a $8-10 million remote emergency operations center here in Norwich.  While working with the Dominion Team, NCDC staff contacted many property owners in and around the Business Park about availability of land for development.  There were several prospective sites, but due to other restrictions and considerations, only two of those sites made the final list: the Easter Seals site on Stott Avenue and undeveloped land on Consumers Avenue.  Dominion decided on the Stott Avenue parcel. Since then, the owner of Consumers Interstate decided to place their excess land on the market.  See it here: http://pequotcommercial.com/property/2-consumer-ave/.

 

If that land is developed to its fullest extent, it could mean up to an additional 190 jobs, $146,000 in new utility payments to the City and new Norwich personal and real property taxes of $160,000 per year.  Considering the long revenue tail that is associated with this kind of economic development activity, this opportunity could provide a significant contribution to the community.  Combine this with prospective new development across the Business Park, and Norwich’s Stanley Israelite Business Park will continue to contribute more and more to the bottom line of the City of Norwich while providing a great place for an additional $51.75 million in business revenue and $9,000,000 in purchasing power in the region.  That is the beginning of real success by any standard!

 

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Fall is upon us and Wednesday is October 1st, which in Norwich means it’s also Walktober.  What is Walktober? Walktober is run by the Last Green Valley, a non-profit that promotes the 35 town National Heritage Park that Norwich is a part of.  The event is run for the entire month of October and features walking tours led by locals.  It also includes water events and bicycle rides.    This year’s Walktober events were organized by groups all over the city coordinated by Dianne Brown of the Norwich Historical Society.

What do walks through Norwich have to do with economic development you may ask?  Economic development is about concerted actions that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area.   The goal of the Walktober events that Norwich hosts is to educate people about all of the wonderful “hidden gems” the City has to offer.  In doing this we hope to enable an economic impact for local businesses through increased traffic and awareness.  For example did you know that Thayer’s Marine now rents kayaks?  With three rivers all converging on the Norwich Harbor it makes Thayer’s the perfect place to rent a kayak.  Thayer’s is sponsoring a Kayak/Canoe Tour of the Norwich Harbor on Saturday October 4th at 10 AM.  If this is of interest to you call NCDC today to register, spots are limited.

Also, did you know that there is a non-profit working to create a Botanical Garden in Norwich?  The Chelsea Botanical Garden has been in the planning stages for several years and they are now in the fundraising stage.  You can hike through the woods of Mohegan Park on October 25th at 1PM as the leader presents the vision for this multi-million-dollar project.  If you are interested meet the group at 25 Mahan Drive.

Norwich Public Utilities (NPU) has been powering Norwich since 1904.  Our municipal utility provides reliable vital services to the community and uses revolutionary ideas to make projects happen.  Have you seen the Shetucket River Fish Lift?  Dams were built across Norwich tributaries in the 1800’s to help harness the power of water, but blocked spawning runs of shad, alewife and other species.  NPU worked with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to install a lift at the Greenville Dam in 1996 in order to help the fish spawn up stream. Join NPU on a tour of the hydroelectric station on October 4th at 10 AM or October 22 at 10AM and observe the fish lift first hand.  Meet the group at 7 Eighth Street.

How many restaurants do you think are in historic Downtown Norwich?  How many have you been to?  The 3rd Annual Grub Crawl in historic Downtown Norwich allows participants to tour several of them, get a sense of the history and learn about the diverse dining scene. You MUST REGISTER to take this free tour that includes samples from all the participating restaurants.  Join the Grub Crawl on October 26th at 3PM by Calling NCDC to register.

These walks plus over 30 MORE are all being led by various organizations throughout the City of Norwich.  With over 75 people attending the Downtown Zombie Walk last year and over 100 attending the Norwich Millionaires Triangle we are literally raising awareness about the great things in Norwich one step at a time.

Check out the calendar of Norwich walks so you too can join our amazing walk leaders to see all that Norwich has to offer!

UPDATING THE CITY’S COMPREHENSIVE PLAN

We can already hear the response to the headline: “Norwich doesn’t need another Plan!” So we figured we should tell you a little about this project and why we are working on it. First, it is true that Norwich has a lot of different plans. Many of the City’s plans were adopted more than 20 years ago, and many of the recommendations in those plans have long ago been implemented, but that is another story for another day. This article is about the Comprehensive Plan, which are the City’s Zoning Regulations and Zoning Map.

Few people think of zoning as a “plan,” but when you combine policies with geography (a map) indeed the result is a plan, as the combination of these two elements outline the rules that will help Norwich achieve the future that it envisions. For example, a vacant parcel of land that is zoned for business purposes represents a future condition that Norwich wants: a building housing a new business; rather than the current condition (vacant land). By describing the desired condition on a map, the city is sharing that knowledge with others to enable potential buyers to understand the city’s vision. When linked with regulations, the details about how that vision can be achieved are then communicated to interested parties.

How does zoning work? State law enables towns to adopt a comprehensive plan. In Norwich, the comprehensive plan is administered by the City Council, and the day-to-day administration is overseen by the Commission on the City Plan and the city’s Department of Planning and Neighborhood Services. All properties in the city are “zoned,” which means that there is at least one set of rules that apply to how a property owner can use their land. The basic elements are whether the property is zoned for residential (housing) or business uses, but there are many nuances. Digging deeper into the use classifications, property owners will see lists of principal uses that are allowed, as well as accessory uses (such as whether you can install a swimming pool, garden or shed). All uses have a permit process, which ranges from no permit required through special permits.

Some uses include additional rules and standards to ensure that the use falls within acceptable levels in the city. Off-street parking, for example, is required for almost all uses, and the size of the parking lot is related to the size of the building and the type of use in the building. Backus Hospital has a different parking requirement than Norwichtown Commons because of the rate in which parking is anticipated to be used. The regulations provide guidance regarding the minimum number of spaces that are anticipated to be needed, along with size requirements for the individual space. This approach has been developed to control how one property might impact adjacent properties and the public’s transportation network.

Zoning is not meant to be a static tool, and as time progresses new ways to address topics, such as off-street parking, arise, as do new land use activities that we had not previously imagined. Also, every ten years the city updates the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), an overall vision for the city, and the comprehensive plan needs to be updated to reflect the ideas in that document. This leads to why Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) is involved. NCDC works on economic development opportunities which are largely controlled by the city’s policies and plans.

During the POCD update, NCDC played a very active role in trying to help the city think through where and how future development may be enabled and promoted. This process led to a series of topic-specific plans, such as the economic development plan, that highlights opportunity areas. It is then up to the comprehensive plan to convert the inventory of opportunity areas into actionable places, where property owners (current or future) are empowered to implement the city’s vision.

Ultimately, a large portion of the POCD will be implemented with private capital from developers and property owners that share Norwich’s vision, appreciate the market opportunity here, and have the knowhow to pursue the development. It is up to the comprehensive plan to make sure that the desires of the community are purposefully given and that the development community has clear direction on how to satisfy those desires. NCDC is involved because we want to see Norwich continue to promote itself as a business-friendly community, while embracing the qualities that make this a nice community in which to live and play. If you have any questions about this project, please contact Jason Vincent | [email protected] | 860.887.6964

To see the adopted regulations, please click HERE