Mohegan resort proposal takes another step in Preston

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PRESTON -- Residents voted overwhelmingly to build a major indoor and outdoor entertainment facility Tuesday night. According to Preston’s Fist Selectman Robert Congdon, 813 people voted in favor, where 137 opposed.

The Mohegan Tribe is looking to build a non-gambling resort on the grounds of the former Norwich State Hospital. The property takes up more than 390 acres of land in the south-east corner of the state.

At a ceremony Wednesday, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe Kevin Brown, said, "We are equally proud, as a tribe, to be back on this side of the river.”

The land near the Thames River has been at the center of controversy for years. Since 1904, it was home to the Norwich State Hospital for the Insane. Since it closed in 1996, the land has gone ignored, untouched and sat as a blighted property for Preston.

“It’s been an albatross to the town. We’ve had these buildings that were falling apart, and no one was interested," said Town Redevelopment Chairman Sean Nugent.

“This project has been a priority of mine since the first time I ran for governor unsuccessfully back in the 2004-5-6 period of time," said Governor Dan Malloy. "As I drove by this site, I frequently wondered what the state had done to this poor community."

Now Mohegan Sun, which overlooks the property from across the Thames, is coming back to land they owned 400 years ago. Brown says developers are already touring. Rumored plans are big and include shopping complexes and amusement parks, but for now nothing is confirmed.

But for the Mohegans, the town of Preston, and the state, the biggest plan is what it could mean to the Southeastern Connecticut economy.

“To be part of a process that will bring excitement, that will bring development, that will bring jobs that will bring tax revenues to the town of Preston. We are proud to be part of that," said Brown.