The Mohegan Tribe has applied for planning permissions for its redevelopment of the former Norwich State Hospital site along the Thames River. It marks a milestone in the long effort to revive the site.
Almost 400 acres of prime riverfront land has lain polluted and unused since 1996, when the hospital closed. It sits directly opposite the Mohegan Sun casino.
In a lofty hotel room overlooking the site Tuesday, Mohegan Tribal chairman Kevin Brown unveiled renderings of what could be in store under a $200 to $600 million revamp.
Brown said of all the ventures the tribal gaming authority is currently involved in around the world, this one is literally closest to home. “We are the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut, and we will always be the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut. Other ventures in other places may come and go from a commercial standpoint. But this is right here close to home, and I don’t see this one failing.”
The site is actually owned by the town of Preston, which took a huge chance in buying it from the state for just one dollar back in 2009, while also taking on the massive liability of environmental cleanup.
Speaking Tuesday, Governor Dannel Malloy described that deal, under his predecessor, as grossly unfair. “The idea that we would not be invested in cleaning up the site that we had so badly abused and affected - it just was not fair,” he said.
The state has already contributed $9 million to the cleanup, and it's preparing to bond for a further $10 million. That can be added to a series of federal EPA grants that the town has managed to win to fund the preparation of the site.
Preston First Selectman Bob Congdon said bringing this deal together after so many years represents a step towards renewed economic prosperity in the region.
“Now our challenge is to take this, and the good news that came at EB and run with it. Let’s not stop here,” he said.
The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said it's already in talks with private developers on the final shape of the development. Potential plans include indoor and outdoor recreation, a marina, housing, hotels, and retail space.