09/02/2023

UDS-Biz

Growing Your Income

NCDC to seek private loan to purchase land for proposed second business park in Norwich

Nov. 30—NORWICH — As the purchase option deadline nears on 384 acres of land proposed for a second Norwich business park, the Norwich Community Development Corp. is finalizing terms for a $3.1 million loan with a private financing firm to purchase the property.

NCDC has a purchase agreement for $3.55 million on the 17 properties on Canterbury Turnpike, Lawler Lane, Route 97 and along Interstate 395 to create a second business park, dubbed Business Park North.

NCDC must notify the owners, M&A Holdings LLC and Byron Brook Country Club LLC, by Dec. 15 if the agency intends to go forward with the purchase by the Dec. 31 option deadline.

The owners had purchased the properties, including the former Tarryk and Doolittle farms, in the early 2000s for a golf course resort and residential project that never took place.

The NCDC Board of Directors discussed Wednesday in executive session a proposed financing agreement with a private New York-based lending firm for $3.1 million, but delayed action on the loan agreement until a special meeting at 4 p.m. Dec. 8, when the final terms of the agreement are expected to be ready, NCDC President Kevin Brown said following the meeting.

Brown said the lending firm, which he declined to identify before the deal is finalized, “has an established record of real estate financing and developing.” Brown said the deal will be the permanent financing for the property, and that the lending firm could become active in the development as well.

“They’ve expressed an interest in possible involvement in future development of (the business park),” Brown said Wednesday.

NCDC already has paid $575,000 in deposits and options payments to the owners, which counted toward the purchase price, Brown said. The $3.1 million loan amount includes the remaining purchase price and money for legal fees and closing costs.

Brown declined to discuss specific loan terms until the agreement is finalized.

NCDC has been working on the Business Park North development plan since 2020, but as the plan has been solidified in recent months, opposition from neighbors in the rural Occum area has grown. About 100 residents attended a Nov. 9 neighborhood meeting held by NCDC at the Norwich Worship Center on Lawler Lane. The church also abuts the property.

On Monday, the Norwich City Council, which also serves as the zoning board, will hold a zoning public hearing at 7:30 p.m. at Kelly Middle School auditorium on NCDC’s proposed Business Master Plan District for the property. The plan includes a proposed layout of a major new access road off Exit 18 of Interstate 395 through the property. The new road would roughly parallel the interstate, with a roundabout at the intersection with Lawler Lane that would keep business park traffic off the local road, officials said.

The parcels now are zoned for a planned development district or general commercial development.

NCDC had hoped to obtain federal grant money for $18 million of the total estimated $24 million cost to purchase and develop the property, but the grant application was not approved.

With the loan to secure the financing for the purchase, the agency next will apply to the state of Connecticut through the new Community Investment Fund established by Gov. Ned Lamont to develop the road network and utility infrastructure in the proposed business park.

NDDC plans to vote on the CIF grant applications for the business park at its Dec. 8 meeting. NCDC also hopes to apply for CIF grants to demolish the ruins of the former Capehart Mill in Greeneville and to assist with development of the city waterfront as well. CIF grant applications are due in early January.

c.bessette@theday.com