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Norwich officials to meet with prospective marina buyer

August 21, 2018

Norwich — Mayor Peter Nystrom and other city officials will meet Aug. 29 with representatives for a potential buyer of the Marina at American Wharf, which has been for sale for the past year.

Richard Joyal, principal for Joyal Capital Management, the firm that purchased the marina in 2011 under the name JCM Norwich Marina, said Tuesday that he referred the prospective buyer to the mayor’s office as a necessary part of the process. The city owns the 5.25-acre property and leases the land to the marina owner. The original 99-year lease with American Wharf Development Corp. was signed in 1987.

Joyal said Tuesday that several parties are interested in buying the marina, which is on the market for 750,000 the Joyal firm paid the estate of former marina developer Ronald Aliano for the marina on Oct. 31, 2011. The City Council had approved the transfer of the lease to JCM a month earlier.

Joyal said he could not discuss details of the sales talks or what plans prospective buyers might have for the property, saying the parties are under nondisclosure agreements concerning the negotiations.

There is no time schedule for negotiations to be completed with any prospective buyer, Joyal said, saying the timing is “contingent on a number of moving parts.”

A September 2017 listing of the property for sale described it as “a high-quality marina with 160 slips, a restaurant (leased to a third-party operator), and an adjacent wedding/event tent that can host events up to 250 people.”

JCM also owns the former Marina Towers office building at 74-78 W. Main St., adjacent to the marina property. The firm purchased that building Jan. 30, 2007, four years before the marina purchase, for $775,000.

Nystrom said Tuesday he is eager to meet with prospective buyers to express the city’s concerns and desires for the property and some amendments to the ongoing lease to protect the city’s interests. One condition would be that the new owner install new gasoline fueling tanks for boaters.

JCM removed the tanks prior to the start of this year’s boating season under a federal regulation calling for removal of underground tanks that reach the end of their 30-year lifespan. Joyal said Tuesday the company did not replace the tanks, because the property was for sale and did not want to create impediments for a potential buyer’s development plans, which could include reconfiguring the property layout or uses.

City officials, however, said lack of available fuel for boaters is a major problem for the marina, located 12 miles upriver from the shoreline.

Nystrom said he also will stress the need for public access to and public events on the marina property. In past years, the marina hosted some city events, including gatherings with food and live music during the annual July 4 fireworks festival.

Harbor Management Commission Chairman H. Tucker Braddock said he has concerns about the physical facilities, as well. JCM made repairs and upgraded marina facilities during its early years of ownership but Braddock said docks and pilings now need work, and he repeated the need for fuel tanks for boaters.

The lease includes land at the northern end of the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park, where the Putts Up Dock former miniature golf course was built by Aliano, and where the Joyal firm had renovated a building to house a seasonal ice cream shop. The shop has since closed, and much of the former golf course property is overgrown.

Braddock said the marina has been “underutilized” by the current owners, with the banquet tent rarely hosting events. He, too, said public access, including the seasonal restaurant, is critical to the future revitalization of the city waterfront.

“We as citizens like having a drink there, and sitting there and watching the boats,” Braddock said. “It’s a great asset to our community.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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