Norwich Community Development Corporation: Statement Regarding President Jason Vincent

All of us here at NCDC are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our President, leader, and friend Jason Vincent. We, like everyone in the community, are trying to cope during this incredibly difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his entire family. With that in mind, we will plan a proper tribute to Jason in the not-so-distant future.

Our plan is to collaborate with other organizations that Jason held close to his heart and to be inclusive of the entire Norwich community. We will make sure we give Jason the proper recognition and acknowledgement that we all know he deserves. We appreciate your patience while we navigate the sudden loss of a great man who loved our city deeply.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.
NCDC Board of Directors

For more information please contact:
Mary Riley
Community Manager
Norwich Community Development Corporation
860-887-6964
[email protected]

Development Spotlight: Westledge Luxury Apartments

Over twelve years ago a fire devastated the former Peachtree apartment complex on Westledge Drive in Norwich. Under new ownership, Westledge Luxury Apartments has begun construction on the first phase (60 units) of its 120-unit complex. The design for Westledge maximizes the prior footprint to offer two- and three-bedroom units, after receiving a variance from the City. These garden style apartments will feature high-end finishes including granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, central air conditioning, and private decks. There will also be 30 detached garages available for residents. The grounds will have pet areas, open lawn spaces, and a clubhouse with a gym and an outdoor pool.

The development team at Pledge Property Management is excited about this latest undertaking, projected to come online in 2021.  The Pledge Property brand encompasses a real estate division, as well as a construction and development team. Pledge is owned and operated by two generations of the Gebbie family, proud to celebrate their 50th year.  They currently manage over 350 units in Eastern Connecticut, 280 of which they privately own.

“We’re really excited to bring the Westledge project to Norwich,” shares Darwin Gebbie, who bought his first apartment house in 1970. “And to now have the family continue that, it’s really special to have another generation involved.”

The Gebbie trio of father Darwin, along with his son Alex Gebbie and wife Jessica, are proud of the connection they have fostered with their management team. “Our staff are our extended family,” Darwin shares. They attribute much of their success to their strong vendor relationships which include: Yantic River Consulting, KML Architects, Coit Excavating, Zlotnick Construction, D.B. Lunt, LLC, Air We Are Heating & Cooling LLC, James Carboni Plumbing & Heating Inc. and The Falcon Group (MEP Engineer). 

The City of Norwich has been instrumental to the development process. “The City has just been great,” Jessica shares. “They’ve really helped us bring this project to life.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the building department has been available remotely to help the team maintain momentum on site. The City has also offered Zoom meetings to continue to meet virtually.

Westledge has also partnered with Norwich Public Utilities to offer electric car charging stations and incorporates energy-efficient features throughout the complex. Dime Bank and Ion Bank are providing construction to permanent financing for this project.  

To learn more about the Westledge project, please contact Jessica Gebbie at 860-887-2792 or [email protected], or visit www.pledgepropertymanagement.com. 

NCDC: A partnership of city, local businesses helped restaurants open

THE DAY (May 28, 2020) — Reopening downtown restaurants for outside dining as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions proved to be a group effort in Norwich, with the city, local banks, a construction contractor, a waste removal company and even Frontier Communications helping to make it happen.

Norwich Community Development Corp. Senior Vice President Jason Vincent told the NCDC board of directors Thursday that efforts to open downtown restaurants to outside dining last week required a group effort of public and private entities. The city provided concrete barriers, traffic warning barrels and picnic tables at the start, and the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce and Global City Norwich loaned tents, Vincent said.

Several other businesses stepped up to donate supplies and services. Dime Bank purchased barrels of flowers and additional tents to enhance outdoor dining spaces, and Eastern Savings Bank quickly followed suit, buying outdoor dining tables and flowers, Vincent said.

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NCDC President Robert Mills to retire in July

THE DAY (May 28, 2020) — Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills will retire from the economic development agency July 31 after 12 years, reducing the agency’s staff to one full-time person.

Mills, 67, announced his retirement following the NCDC board of directors video conference meeting Thursday. The board met for an hour in executive session to discuss a personnel matter and did not discuss Mills’ departure in open session. The board has been discussing his position in executive session for the past several months. He said he has been working on a retirement plan for the past two years.

Mills’ departure will leave Senior Vice President Jason Vincent as the sole full-time staff member and apparent successor to Mills at NCDC and its Foundry 66 co-workspace. Vice President and Community Manager Jill Fritzsche left May 15 to become Killingly economic development director.

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Haitian flag raised in Norwich

THE BULLETIN (May 18, 2020) — Even though the yearly Haitian festival in Norwich is canceled due to the presence of COVID-19, Norwich Alderman Darrell Wilson said he and others wanted to show “our small piece appreciation and honor for such an important community in the City of Norwich.”

To commemorate the presence of the Haitian community in Norwich, a ceremony for Haitian National Flag Day was held Monday in front of the Norwich City Hall by the United Congregational Church. The U.S. flag and the Haitian flag flew next to each other.

“Haitians around the world celebrate National Flag Day, expressing their national pride, honoring the forefathers of the Nation, and replenishing their resolve for Haiti’s future in the face of their ancestors’ tremendous and unique accomplishment,” the website for the Haitian embassy in Washington, D.C., states.

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Norwich to mark Haitian Flag Day with simple ceremony Monday

THE DAY (May 16, 2020) — A muted celebration of Haitian Flag Day will take place Monday, starting with a morning raising of the Haitian flag in the plaza outside City Hall and an evening proclamation to be read by the City Council at its remote-access meeting broadcast.

Norwich Free Academy Haitian American students Allen and Alexander Dufort, recipients of the Martin Luther King scholarship, Norwich Alderman Derell Wilson and Haitian American Enock Petit-Home will participate in the 9:30 a.m. flag-raising ceremony. Global City Norwich, which has hosted Haitian festivals in downtown, is coordinating the program.

The proclamation, included as part of the City Council meeting agenda, will be read at the start of the 7:30 p.m. council meeting, to be broadcast on Comcast Channel 97 or by livestream on the city’s website, norwichct.org.

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Norwich Forms Task Force to Help Restaurants Reopen, Find Outdoor Space

NBC CONNECTICUT (May 13, 2020) — Restaurant owners in Norwich have spent the last two months changing the way they conduct business. The coronavirus shutdowns have prompted layoffs, takeout only meals and contactless delivery.

As the state is now entering a phase of reopening, the restaurant owners are working to conquer a new challenge: how to set up outdoor dining for the first time.

“We are going to try it,” said Justin Burrows, owner of La Stella Pizzeria in Downtown Norwich. “We are going to see how we can execute it.”

Watch on NBC Connecticut

NCDC vice president to become Killingly economic development director

THE DAY (May 13, 2020) —Jill Fritzsche, vice president of the Norwich Community Development Corp. and instrumental in getting the Foundry 66 shared workspace facility open and expanded, will leave the agency Friday to become economic development director in Killingly.

NCDC President Robert Mills announced Fritzsche’s departure Wednesday and said it’s a loss for the Norwich economic development agency, but a “great career opportunity” for Fritzsche.

“We’re going to need to find three people,” Mills said of the prospects of finding a replacement for Fritzsche.

Mills said NCDC will take its time to find a new replacement.

Fritzsche has served as vice president of economic development and the community manager of Foundry 66 for the past three years. During her tenure at NCDC, she oversaw the expansion of Foundry 66, tripling its occupancy and programming. She launched the creation of the pop-up shop concept for small retail ventures in the Sunlight Emporium Building of the complex, bringing retail back into the downtown.

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Locals cautious, but excited, for reopening

THE BULLETIN (May 1, 2020) — Bozrah resident Charlie Rutchick believes the time to start reopening businesses is “past due.”

“I’ve got kids sitting at home, going broke,” he said.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced his plan Thursday evening to reopen businesses in Connecticut. Starting on May 20, a variety of businesses, including retail establishments, hair and nail salons, and various forms of outdoor recreation and activity, will begin to reopen. The plan is conditional based on whether the number of cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from it continue to drop, among other factors.

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Global City Norwich Receives Statewide Recognition

(April 2020) This month, the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) announced that the Global City Norwich Program is a recipient of this year’s Awards of Excellence. Global City Norwich, being recognized for its excellence in Events & Programming, is one of eight initiatives from communities across Connecticut set to receive the award. 

According to the CMSC, the annual Awards of Excellence was established in 2003 to “recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically.”

Global City Norwich is a multi-year project supporting the revitalization of Downtown Norwich and is funded by the Chelsea Groton Foundation, whose mission is to support the ongoing commitment in partnership for the long-term growth of the community. 

“I can think of fewer programs more deserving of this award than Global City Norwich,” comments Michael Rauh, President and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank. “Stimulating economic activity in our historic Downtown while engaging with broader cultural communities who call Norwich home is exactly what Chelsea Groton Foundation is proud to support.” Over the last two years, the program has hosted more than a dozen cultural experiences in Downtown Norwich, including festivals celebrating Peruvian, Polish, Dominican, and Cape Verdean cultures. 

“It is an honor to receive this recognition from the Connecticut Main Street Center,” says Global City Norwich Liaison Suki Lagrito, who has led the charge for the Norwich initiative since its inception in 2018. “But this recognition isn’t about our efforts,” Lagrito remarks, ”It’s really a testament to the cultures and communities that have embraced Global City and have supported us in enriching Norwich’s economic activity and have leaned into celebrating its overall vibrancy.”   

In addition to celebrating Norwich’s diverse community, the initiative has also partnered with the Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) in an effort to increase the occupancy of storefronts downtown. Through various educational programming and outreach efforts, Global City Norwich is attributed to about 30% of new businesses in Downtown Norwich since 2018, leveraging over $300,000 in economic investment and spending. 

As for the program’s next steps, Lagrito and NCDC will continue to support cultural groups and provide business education programs, with a renewed focus on cultivating spaces in Downtown Norwich. According to NCDC President Robert Mills, programs such as Vanilla Boxing will help to activate vacant spaces by removing the barriers preventing entrepreneurs from moving in. “We’re also in the process of sourcing entrepreneurial curiosity through working labs with local high school and college students,” Mills shares. 

Joining Norwich among the communities with organizations and initiatives receiving recognition are Bridgeport, New Britain, Manchester, Rockville, Simsbury, Waterbury, and Windsor Locks.

CMSC will present each award locally in the community in which the project is located later this year.   

To learn more about Global City Norwich, please contact Suki Lagrito at [email protected] or 860.304.8505.

To learn more about the CMSC Awards of Excellence, please contact Marketing & Development Director Christine Schilke at [email protected] or 860.280.2356.