Norwich CT Co-Housing Site
From: BARANSKI (BARANSKIVEAMF1.NL.NUWC.NAVY.MIL)
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 93 08:11 CDT
Well, I've had quite the weekend...

This weekend, I went and looked at an old woolen mill in Baltic CT.  It is a
*huge* 200,000 sft 5 story old granite mill built around 1910 on the Quinnebog
River just north of Norwich CT.  It has 20 acres of land along the river, with
the small rural village of Baltic on the other side.

In a couple of months, the mill will be up for auction for back taxes for just
under 100K$.  In the last auction a couple weeks ago, no one bid on it.  If no
one bids on it next time, the town will take it over, divide up the land, and
tear the mill down, selling off the granite and timbers.

The mill is in good shape considering it's age, and neglect.  The roof needs to
be replaced in one section, and repaired in some other sections along the
eves...  There are a gadzillion windows to be repaired.  The land is quite
overgrown.

The mill was last run as a mill, about 30 years ago.  For the past 10 years, it
has been owned by a group of lawyers in Hartford, who have not spent a cent to
maintain it.  There were a couple of small companies at one time building
kayakes; they even left the fiberglass molds behind.  Each floor of the factory
is close to two stories tall.  Another mill in the area turned into condos put
two story apartments on each floor, but they cut the space up badly.

This mill is *way* too large for our anticipated co-housing group, and we are
nowhere near ready.  We had anticipated wanting space for our own small
businesses, but we had had a target of between 50-100K sft.  It is also on the
'wrong' side of Norwich; toward the rural north side, away from the other
cities of Groton & New London.  The land is long and narrow along the river,
with 12 acres of land upriver across rt 97 (two lane country road), and maybe 5
acres where the buildings are, and a few acres between the mill race and the
river.  There is a wire manufacturing company on a couple of acres between the
mill and the river, and a couple of acres of concrete slabs from where the
weaving shed used to be (it was a later building with a saw toothed roof)  On
the north side of the mill, what used to be the 'front office' building for the
mill was recently a hardware store, and is for sale.  On the other side of the
road is the town fire dept, a renovated wharehouse with a construction co in
it.  A narrow 200' wide strip of land extends downriver with the road.

On the plus side, the price is right!  It really is a beautifull place.  I 395
runs by a couple miles away down to New London.  Environmentally the place is
clean, as it was used as a textiile mill untill relatively late, and then was
not used for any large scale manufacturing since.  The only problem is interior
lead paint, which would probably be dealt with by sandblasting.

According to the town selectman who showed me through the place, there are a
number of businesses who would like to make use of the space; but none of them
can tackle the entire mill.  So it would be possible to rent out part of the
space to pay the bills.  At worst case, the land, granite and timbers are worth
the price of the tax certificate, and could be sold to recoup the cost of the
tax certificate.

The way the tax certificate works is that the previous owners have 1 year to
buy the tax certificate back plus 18% interest, else it becomes our property
free and clear.  So you would not want to put a lot of money into the mill in
the first year.

Of course the expenses of renovating the place would be several million, but
renovation can take place in sections and in stages, and we may *never* use all
the space.  Some of the space may even be available for public recreation.
The village does have some concern about adding a large amount of housing, and
the selectman's initial reaction to mixed use was that a variance for a limited
sft of residential space was possible.  He was more interested in commercial
applications.  There are supposedly a number of historic/housing/jobs grants
that would be available.  Taxes run 5000$ a year as is; tax breaks are
possible.

Since we are not exactly loaded with money, we are wondering how we could
possibly pull this off.  We have a number of people willing and able to do as
much of the work possible ourselves.  Rather then trying to beg/borrow/steal
money to pay other people to do the work, we would prefer to interest people
who are willing and able to help with the work to get involved.

More later,  ideas & suggestions appreciated.


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              |           =====       .     ===         |
              |           =====  wire . con   ===       |
       Village of Baltic  =====   co  . crete  ==       |
              |           =====........        ==       |
              |           =====         mmmmmm ==       |      fire
              |           =====         m    m ==       |      dept
              |           =====         m    m ==       |
              |           =====     ====m====m ==       |                   n
              |           =====     =   m    m     ffff |                   o
              |           =====     =   m    m    f   f |                   r
              |           =====     =   m    m   f    f |      const        t
              |           =====     =   m    m   f    f |      co           h
              |           =====     =   m    m   f    f |
              |           =====     =   m    m    f   f |
              |           =====     =   m    m     ffff |
              |           =====     =   m    m          |
              |           =====     =   mmmmmm          |
              |           =====     =                   |
              |           =====     =                   |
              |           =====   ===                  /
                          ===== ==                    /
                          =======                    /
                          =====                     / 
                            =====                  /
                              =====               |
                                =====             |
                                  =====           |
                                    =====         |
                                     ===== land   |
                                     =====   to   |
                                     ===== here   |

Jim Baranski
Landman Hill Farm

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