Even as news from the residential market continues to slow, the commercial and retail markets continue to expand. Eastern Connecticut is home to two of the largest casinos in the world. The continued expansion of neighboring casinos and businesses has created a population and economic expansion in the region. From Norwich North to Route 32 and Route 395, major developments have been announced or construction has started. The area still has many opportunities and possible development sites available, which will allow the area to have a robust future expansion.
Casinos continue to expand
The areas around the casinos continue to expand. Both casinos have announced and initiated major expansion plans, which will more than double their gaming spaces, as well as the continued expansion of hotels and entertainment spaces. Foxwoods Resort Casino is currently building 826 hotel rooms, a 50,000-square-foot ballroom and a 4,000-seat performing arts center. Mohegan Sun Casino announced plans to build 1,000 additional hotel rooms and 115,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Both casinos attract approximately 25 million people to the area annually.
Utopia not yet dead
So far, there is still hope for Utopia Studios. Planned for the 400-acre site of the former Norwich Hospital across the river from the Mohegan Sun Casino. The $ 1.6 billion project consists of a theme park, movie studio and entertainment center pink casino. The project would create about 22,000 new jobs and attract ten million additional visitors to the area annually. Even if Utopia’s business fails, the main developers are interested in this property, which will continue to support the expansion of the Norwich market.
Nearby Stonington is Liberty Crossings, an 800,000 square foot retail center. Anchored by Lowes Homes Improvement and Target and including a pedestrian village with 330,000 inhabitants. Byron Brook Country club in Occum, a $ 200 million golf community is under construction. The Pequots Tribe Lake of Isle golf course is now open.
Unlike most parts of the state, northeastern Connecticut still has large plots of land in the vicinity of major passenger routes. Developers found cities receptive to commercial and residential growth. Residential developments have attracted people to more affordable housing in more expensive metropolitan areas in Connecticut and across the border in Rhode Island and Massachusettes. With easy access to Route 84, 395 and 32 Eastern Connecticut, it allows homeowners the best of both worlds, affordable rural life, with any easy commute to work. Less than two hours drive to New York or Boston, and just 45 minutes to Providence and Worcester. The area is well served by rail, making the area an excellent home for companies that need efficient distribution systems.
North on Route 32
Route 32 travels north to south in eastern Connecticut, from New London to the Massachusetts border. From Mohegan Sun, passing through Norwich, on Franklin Route 32, leads to Windham and Willimantic. This route serves as an important route for local officials, and the tourist route between casinos and Western Massachusettes. Across the Norwich border, Franklin has large plots of commercial land available along Route 32, with an average daily traffic count approaching 20,000 cars a day, and the area is a key point for future development . In Windham and Willimantic, the city continues to grow with excellent demographics, the revival of Main Street and Eastern Connecticut State University. Windham’s retail market on Route 6 is home to Home Depot, Sears, Walmart and other national retailers and continues to attract more national retailers.
North on Route 395
Traveling north from the casinos to Route 395 is attracting many national companies and expanding residential markets. Lisbon Landing proved to be a very successful retail center. Further north on Route 395, the cities of Plainfield and Sterling are ready for the next growth spurt. Ceruzzi Holdings, developer of Crossing on Killingly Commons, bought the former Plainfield Dog Track. Other new developments on Route 395 in Putnam include a new retail center anchored by Tractor Supply and the River Front Commons project.