Businesses find new homes in downtown Norwich

THE BULLETIN (July 29, 2019) — Apollo Ziembroski sells and services bicycles of all kinds. He opened a shop about three years ago in Danielson, but last month he moved to downtown Norwich, where his business has so far been much stronger.

Melanie Reyes takes pieces of old denim clothing and makes them better than before, using an artistic flair to turn each piece into a unique creation. After selling at craft fairs, she opened her own store earlier this month.

Ziembroski and Reyes are next door to each other in the former Bulletin building on Franklin Street. They are the first of what the Norwich Community Development Corp., which owns the building, hopes will be a whole collection of shops.

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Norwich celebrates local Peruvian culture

THE DAY (July 28, 2019) — Franklin Street was decorated with red and white flags, happy music could be heard from miles around and the smell of fresh food wafting through the air drew people downtown Sunday to celebrate the second annual Peruvian Festival.

The festival coincided with the one-year anniversary of Global City Norwich’s efforts to revitalize downtown Norwich with cultural festivals and public events. A Polish festival was held last month and the Haitian Cultural Festival is scheduled for Aug. 11.

Ella Valencia, a local event designer for the Niftal and Friends, celebrated her Peruvian descent by creating a public art display of the Peruvian jungle. It featured handmade mushrooms, jungle trees and costumes representing native birds.

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Apollo Cycles rides into downtown Norwich

THE DAY (July 26, 2019) — When people say they “fell into” their career, it’s supposed to be a figurative expression — but that actually happened for Apollo Ziembroski, owner of Apollo Cycles

As a 16-year-old Fitch High School student living in Stonington, Ziembroski rode his mountain bike to school every day, no matter the weather. One morning, he was struck — “nicked,” as he put it — by a school bus, and down he and the bike went.

He wasn’t injured but his new $1,200 mountain bike, which he got as a present for his 16th birthday, was banged up. He took it to Mystic Cycle Center for repair.

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Peruvian Festival more than just another Norwich party

THE BULLETIN (July 26, 2019) — All things Peruvian, from handcrafted items to traditional food, music and dancing from different regions of the coastal South American country will be showcased Sunday at the Peruvian Festival downtown.

The festival, which kicks off at noon on Franklin Street, is part of a larger effort by the project Global City Norwich to breathe more energy into the area, create a greater sense of community and revitalize downtown.

“A downtown is the heartbeat of a city,” Global City Norwich liaison Suki Lagrito said. “The idea is to create this revitalization through bringing the community together and creating a more vibrant scene downtown.”

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Asian grocery opens in downtown Norwich

THE BULLETIN (July 16, 2019) — Downtown Norwich again has a grocery store, one that serves the area’s large Asian population.

S&A Market has opened its doors off Franklin Square. The market sells groceries, meat and vegetables from Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

It is owned by Mei He and her husband, Yang Liu, of Mansfield. Both are of Chinese descent. Yang is a UConn professor, and Mei worked at a commercial kitchen in Storrs where she made spicy Sichuan sausages and dumplings that were popular with Chinese students at UConn looking for food from their country.

S&A are the initials of the couple’s two daughters, ages 7 and 9.

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Locally owned discount store opening soon in Norwich

THE BULLETIN (July 5, 2019) — If you’re looking for bargains, you’ll soon have another option in Norwich.

Steals & Deals will be opening its doors in a few weeks next to Staples at Norwich Landing at 45 Salem Turnpike. The plaza also is home to KFC, River Vallery Surgery Center, Sprint, Great Scot! and a Red Cross blood donation center.

“We’re almost ready to open up,” said Jason Haller, who owns the business with his wife, Tammy Haller.

The store will sell open box and liquidated closeout merchandise, Haller said. Items will include tools, home fixtures, cleaning supplies, small appliances, bedding, decor and clothing.

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Norwich downtown ‘has turned a tremendous corner’

NORWICH BULLETIN (June 19, 2019) — At a conference Wednesday in the city’s downtown, Chelsea Groton Bank President and CEO Michael Rauh explained that redevelopment efforts often have been stymied by a Catch-22.

Businesses are reluctant to open here because there aren’t enough customers, and customers are reluctant to shop here because there aren’t enough businesses.

Then the problem is compounded by a supply of old deteriorated buildings that may need expensive renovation work that can’t be profitably paid for.

“We knew the building owners were struggling,” Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills told about 80 people at the conference held in the ballroom of the Wauregan. “We recognized part of this market’s weakness is lack of feet on the street.”

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Crowd celebrate at Norwich’s first Cape Verdean Festival

NORWICH BULLETIN (May 26, 2019) — A large and happy filled Franklin Street on Sunday afternoon to celebrate at the first Cape Verdean Festival.

Tents selling a wide variety of food and other goods and others staffed by local nonprofit organizations filled the block in front the building where organizer Global City Norwich is headquartered.

A stage was set up in a parking lot at Franklin and Bath streets, and children and their parents flocked to a pair of bounce houses in another parking lot.

“I think it’s great, it’s awesome,” said Cheyenne Campbell of Norwich, who came with her three children as well as other relatives. “It’s definitely a good turnout for the first time, that’s for sure.”

Members of Cape Verdeans United, a Norwich-based charity, had a tent at the festival, where they were selling Cape Verdean food, including bacalhau — salted cod — rice and beans, and pastel de peixe, which is a pastry containing fish.

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Bicycle shop owner finds better deal in Norwich

NORWICH BULLETIN (May 23, 2019) — Apollo Ziembroski opened his first bicycle shop, in Danielson, for $200. He is moving to downtown Norwich – and says he got a better deal.

Apollo Cycles is expected to open at 56 Broadway in June. Ziembrowski was at the shop on Thursday, and said electrical work, drywall and inventory are the big things on his list before opening. The artificial turf on the first-floor outdoor walls of the building will be removed.

Ziembroski, 26, is going all-in for Norwich. He will live in an apartment just above his store.

He said the Norwich Community Development Corporation reached out to him to come to Norwich.

“I had no intention of moving,” said Ziembroski, who closed his shop on Furnace Street in Danielson last month.

NCDC’s package for him to move included, he said, a grant for outdoor signage, a low-interest loan and partial lease reimbursement for seven years.

Ziembroski says Norwich is a great cycling area. He says Camp Moween in Lebanon has about 15 miles of trails.

“It’s a good place,” he said. “It’s really well thought-out.”

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New development commissioner visits Norwich, New London, Groton

THE DAY (May 21, 2019) — In a two-day tour of southeastern Connecticut, the state’s newest Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner focused on growing cities, capitalizing on the state’s natural assets and leveraging Opportunity Zone status.

David Lehman, a former Goldman Sachs executive the state Senate confirmed as commissioner in March, visited New London and Norwich on Monday, and Norwich and Groton on Tuesday.

His second day included a meeting with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments at its Norwich office, meetings at Electric Boat and the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus, and a tour of the Naval Submarine Base.

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