Plans to Redevelop Old Norwich Hospital Site Include Hotels, Senior Living, Water Park

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has a concept for a $600 million development project at the former Norwich Hospital site in Preston and it includes everything from an indoor water park to a senior living center. 

The concept is a step in finalizing the Property and Disposition and Development Agreement between the MTGA, the Town of Preston, and the Preston Redevelopment Authority.

MTGA announced the plans will include both indoor and outdoor entertainment theaters, an indoor water park with outdoor attractions and a hotel, a senior living center, a sports complex with a hotel, time share units, a marina, an RV park and additional retain, restaurant, convenience and fuel service options.

The project would create an estimated 750 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent full-time jobs. The properties will be taxable.

“With up to $600 million in possible development, we will stimulate growth, drive new business and help strengthen the local economy, solidifying Mystic Country in southeastern Connecticut as a top tourism destination,” said Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” Chairman of the MTGA Management Board, in a release.

Last May the town agreed to a proposal from MTGA to develop the 393-acre property, referred to as the Preston Riverwalk, that sits along the Thames River across from Mohegan Sun.

Town and state officials expressed their support of the latest plans.

"A development of this type and this magnitude will jumpstart the region,” said Sean Nugent, chairman of the Preston Redevelopment Agency.

He says the development could potentially double the tax revenue the town is currently taking in. It would create jobs and taxes to revitalize the area.

"Southeastern Connecticut needs jobs badly,” said Town of Preston First Selectman Bob Congdon.

The southeastern part of the state has been the slowest to recover from the recession, according to Congdon.

He said currently the almost 400 acre site is a blighted brownfield. The town will spend about $25 million dollars to make it environmentally safe. Mohegan will then develop it. It's been unused since the mid ‘90s. The town later bought the land from the state for $1.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said the redevelopment of the site has been a priority of his because of the economic potential of it.

“The redevelopment of this site also means jobs – hundreds of jobs, if not more. And the state remains a committed partner to seeing this project through,” he said in a release.

Those who live and work in the community said the project would mean more spillover business. Plus they have friends looking for jobs closer to home.

"People come from all over Connecticut, all over New England actually, and not only do they spend money at the casino, but they spend money and little businesses such as my Dunkin' Donuts,” said Hilda Bockius of Norwich.

She is in favor of the project.

So is the mayor of neighboring Norwich, Deberey Hinchey, who said the added jobs would help Norwich’s housing economy and open up more jobs closer to the area.

A news conference with Preston First Selectman Robert Congdon and Malloy is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon and details of the plan are expected to be presented at a Preston Planning & Zoning special meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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