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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Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz gives thumbs-up to Norwich business growth

THE DAY (August 21, 2019) — Norwich — Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz gave frequent thumbs-up Wednesday during an hourlong visit to downtown businesses, delighted to hear from young professional business owners opening new stores and restaurants in their hometown or home state.

She followed that walk during a warm, muggy afternoon with a tour of the Atlantic City Linen Supply, a large commercial laundry facility in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park. ACLS Norwich handles laundry for both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort casinos, numerous hotels and resorts throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island, and some as far away as Boston.

Facility founder and Chief Administrative Officer Dan Goldberg said the New Jersey-based company chose Norwich after a joint deal with the two tribal casinos, who co-signed a loan and became its “anchor” customers. The facility brings in bundles of laundry — sheets, pillowcases, towels and table linens — from customers in bar-coded bins. The items are sorted by size and type, dumped into large coded canvas bags hanging from overhead conveyors, each bag weighing about 150 pounds.

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Norwich highlights downtown development progress

THE DAY (June 19, 2019) — Norwich — City leaders, business owners and enthusiastic advocates hosted a Connecticut Main Street downtown preservation conference Wednesday highlighting the varied efforts to revitalize downtown Norwich, from festivals to financial incentives to free consultations with city permitting agencies to help entrepreneurs with business plans.

More than 100 participants attended the morning conference in the historic Wauregan Hotel ballroom prior to walking tours of downtown with four tour leaders pointing out new and mainstay businesses, renovations underway and troubled long-vacant properties.

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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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