Eight Norwich development projects receive ARP-funded grants

·5 min read

Jun. 24—NORWICH — Long-stalled projects and building improvements will receive boosts in the first round of Norwich Revitalization Program grants announced Thursday.

Norwich Community Development Corp. announced that eight development projects with private investment total values of $4.2 million, will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants through the Norwich Revitalization Program. The city established the program with $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan grant money.

Among the projects, the grants will help the stalled conversion of the former Elks Club on Main Street into a small hotel, renovations to lower Broadway buildings and help a family expand its motorcycle business in Greeneville.

Grant recipients interviewed Thursday said the money will help recover losses incurred by COVID-19 pandemic work delays, skyrocketing cost of materials and fuel and issues with the city's older buildings.

Street Stuff, a family-owned motorcycle showroom and service center at 4 Central Ave. in Greeneville, will receive a $263,000 Norwich Revitalization Program grant to add to the family's $600,000 investment to renovate the vacant former AP Savage Hardware building at 192 N. Main St. Street Stuff will open a new showroom for iconic Triumph and Indian motorcycle brands, with a grand opening Friday and Saturday.

"The grant definitely helps with renovation costs we had," said Monica Krasun-Mish, general manager of Street Stuff. "Our budget went over, because of supply and demand and prices that have gone up considerably. We went way over our budget."

The family-owned business has faced more than rising costs. The new showroom was company founder Rich Krasun's dream. He purchased the building in October 2020 but died of COVID-19 in January 2021 just as renovations got underway, his daughter, Monica Krasun-Mish said.

She, her brother, Eric Krasun, and their mother, Charlene Krasun, are keeping his dream alive. The shop on Central Avenue will remain open for used motorcycles and service. The new store will triple the showroom space.

"We put a good amount of money into it to bring back this historic property," Krasun-Mish said.

Steve Brenneisen, owner of Ross Custom Switches at 45 Church St., knows well the troubles and expenses of historic buildings. He bought his 1858 building in 1998 for his growing model train and accessories business. With sales exclusively online and people stuck home during the pandemic, he said orders have boomed over the past two years.

The second floor of the building is mostly unusable, because the roof is sagging. The $125,000 grant will be added to the $230,000 Brenneisen will invest to replace the roof. He said he hopes the new second-floor space will allow him to open a retail store on Church Street.

"The city of Norwich, right from 1998 to now, has always been extremely helpful with me in trying to get the building saved and keep it from degrading and falling into the abyss," Brenneisen said.

These Guys Brewing Co. will be Brenneisen's neighbor, moving and expanding its restaurant into the former Hebrew school at 49 Church St. The project received a $300,000 Norwich Revitalization Program grant to go with the $1.75 million owners Raymond and Rebecca Alberts are putting into the building renovation and relocation project.

Ganesha Hospitality LLC purchased the former Elks Club on Main Street in 2019 and received approvals from the city for a boutique hotel. Then COVID-19 hit and stalled the project. Developer Amit Patel said work shut down for about 18 months but has resumed and progressed well. The project received a grant of $165,283 to leverage the company's investment of $225,000 into building improvements.

Patel said the first phase, with 24 hotel rooms and a conference meeting room, is nearly done. A banquet hall and bar will be the second phase.

"The grant helps us recover most of our losses from the delays and accrued expenses, and difference in material costs," Patel said. "It is just staggering. We're hoping to get done this year."

Rich Thayer, owner of Thayer's Marine, said the $240,000 city grant will help make floodproofing modifications to an old warehouse building, which the company purchased from the city several years ago, behind the Norwich Transportation Center. Thayer's Marine plans to open a boat showroom and expand its service area in the building. The company is investing $340,549 into the building.

Thayer said he hopes to complete the work this summer.

JD Donner, owner of Antenna Salon on the second floor of the commercial building owned by Donner Family LLC, said he was "very, very grateful" for the grant and support from NCDC for the plan to install an outdoor covered lift on the right side of the building at 190 W. Town St. The lift will allow Antenna Salon clients who cannot climb the stairs to access the business and would allow future stylists who cannot climb the stairs to work there.

Donner Family LLC will receive $37,500 for the project, and Donner will contribute $150,000. Donner thanked the entire NCDC staff for assisting with the application, and the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Peter Nystrom for supporting the project. Donner marks his 30th anniversary in business this month.

"They were all really pulling for me, because they know what it means to my clients and stylists who can't make the stairs," Donner said. "And the clients, just to have them have access to my salon is very, very important. The town has been very supportive."


Editor's Note: This version corrects the spelling of Charlene Krasun's first name in the photo captions.