Ponemah Mills nears completion of its second phase

THE DAY (September 26, 2019) — The Lofts at Ponemah Mills, located in the Taftville section of Norwich, is finishing the second phase of construction, to be completed sometime in October. It will make 121 more units available for leasing.

Richard Perez, property manager at Ponemah, saidthe units will include 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms. Some of the new apartments will be affordable housing. Perez said that a lot of interest in the space comes from people who drive by the property.

“We’re expecting a lot of leases,” Perez said. “we’re expecting to move in a lot of people in October.”

Perez said the apartments are “gorgeous”. They feature vaulted ceilings and new appliances.

Robert Mills, president of the Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC), likes that the developer of the project is able to keep the historic character of the building.

“The artistic value is far superior to the buildings you can get today,” he said, referring to Ponemah Mills’ vaulted ceilings.

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Norwich officials discuss successes, challenges and plans at Chamber event

THE DAY (September 20, 2019) — Breakfast and coffee were provided by two of the recent new downtown Norwich businesses at Friday morning’s State of Norwich presentation by the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce, proving one point on the session’s theme: that creative entrepreneurs bring vibrancy to the city.

About 70 business representatives, residents and city employees gathered at City Hall to hear updates from Mayor Peter Nystrom, schools Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow and Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills on the successes, challenges and future plans for the city.

Mills called the current times “the Age of Disruption,” picking up his cellphone to demonstrate the main driver. For example, he said, Norwich has more than 100 AirBnB unregulated room rentals that have hurt local hotel business while not contributing to the city services they might require. Manufacturing jobs nationwide have plummeted in the past 20 years, with the use of robots up 35 percent. Workers find themselves in “co-bot” situations, essentially overseeing the robots doing the more repetitive tasks.

But Norwich has benefited from the recent economic upswing, and Nystrom pointed to the breakfast table in the City Hall meeting room as proof. Breakfast by the new Café Otis, located across from City Hall in the former Norwich Human Services office building, and coffee by neighbor Craftsman Cliff’s Roasters on lower Broadway, graced the table.

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City leaders cite need for partnerships, marketing to stimulate growth

THE BULLETIN (September 20, 2019) The city and schools are starting to do more to tell others about good things happening here and to work with others to make improvements.

Mayor Peter Nystrom, Superintendent of Schools Kristen Stringfellow and Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills addressed about 50 residents at a City Hall gathering Friday morning hosted by the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce.

A key part of Stringfellow’s plan is to “communicate the great work of our schools.” Without money to pay for marketing, she said, instead “we’ve taken to Twitter,” with an increase of accounts belonging to teachers and administrators growing from two to 200.

A second key is to “strengthen the partnership with the City of Norwich and NFA.” Stringfellow, Nystrom and Norwich Free Academy Head of School David Klein are meeting monthly, Nystrom said.

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Developer has plans for vacant pair of downtown Norwich buildings

THE BULLETIN (September 8, 2019) — Two long-vacant Main Street buildings will be back in business within six months if all goes according to local developer Asaf Cohen’s plan.

Cohen in August purchased the circa 1847 Main Street Fire Station as well as a two-story neo-classical building next door that had its start as Merchant’s National Bank in 1924. Assessor’s records show he picked up the buildings for $335,000 each from Wang’s Investment Corp., of Stamford, which had owned them since 2002.

The two buildings are part of the Downtown Norwich Historic District, according to National Register of Historic Places documents.

Norwich Community Development Corp. Vice President Jill Fritzsche said the early 20th century building at 65-69 Main St. had been empty for “well over 10 years” following the departure of City Perk coffee shop. The former fire station at 71 Main St. was being used as an artisan’s cooperative before it went dark two years ago.

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