Preston betting on Mohegan Sun to develop long dormant Norwich Hospital site

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PRESTON -- Finally, after over 20 years of dormancy, the town of Preston is hoping Mohegan Sun can help them hit the jackpot in the The development of the former Norwich Hospital site.

Mohegan Sun, the 393 acre property’s neighbor, just across the Thames River, has been working diligently on a deal for nearly a year.

"That makes this thing more than just a dream," according to Mohegan Tribal Council chairman, Kevin Brown.

The Mohegan’s plan includes, outdoor and indoor attractions, water parks, hotels, retail, restaurants, time shares, a marina and an RV park, campground, marina and water taxi service.

Their proposal goes before the Preston Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday evening.

"We have a year before the land will be cleaned," said Brown. "We have two years before we have to put a shovel in the ground. We have five years before we have to actually have something up and running and delivering that tax base."

In 2008, a $1.6 billion theme park proposal, from movie maker Utopia Studios, fizzled. But, development is on the horizon now, in part, because Preston has been awarded multiple site cleanup grants from the EPA.

"It actually is the largest concentration of EPA brownfield grants for the entire New England region worth about $2.1 million," said Congressman Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut).

The state will contribute close to $20 million toward what could be a $600 million project, which Brown says will "create what's called an alpha point tourist destination," which has attractions beyond just a casino. "The entire industry is moving towards non-gaming amenities," Brown added.

"Our current grand list is $387 million," said Robert Congdon, the First Selectman of Preston. "This has the potential to double our grand list."

The deal is expected to be given final approval after a public comment period in February.

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