Three boys watched a beaker's contents intently, giggling as the swirling liquid turned into neon pink slime.
The boys and roughly 25 other 9- and 10-year-olds from a summer program run by the youth agency LEAP got a glimpse into the lives of scientists when they donned lab coats, safety goggles, and purple gloves to take part in a slime-making experiment at Kolltan Pharmaceuticals.
The experiment Thursday marked the first visit by kids to the cancer research and development company, but just one of many academic and social experiences provided by the not-for-profit LEAP's six-week summer program. LEAP exposes children from high-poverty urban areas to a variety of enrichment activities, from African dance to rock climbing to robotics to reading. This summer, 400 children aged 6 to 21 have taken part in the program, said Executive Director Esther Massie. The program also runs during the school year.
The real estate developer Winstanley Enterprises - from which Kolltan leases its space at 300 George St. - helped arrange the field trip. Carter Winstanley, a principal of Winstanley Enterprises, took part in the slime-making with the kids.
The young New Haveners worked alongside Kolltan's research scientists from start to finish. After getting a tour of the lab's facilities and equipment - a machine to purify medicines that costs as much as a car, a freezer with cells collected more than 50 years ago - kids began making slime in a new section of the lab opened in May to prepare for clinical trials.
Working in small groups led by the scientists, kids carried out six different reactions before comparing their results. Each reaction involved a different combination of a polymer - a large molecule made up of repeating subunits - and a linker to bind these molecules together. Polymers include well-known materials like nylon, teflon, and plastics and make up a whole host of products.
After adding a polymer to their beakers, students added magnets to stir the liquid and then the linker drop by drop. "Oh cool!" a boy exclaimed as the liquid suddenly formed a gel that wiggled in the beaker. Adding food coloring led to slimes that spanned the color spectrum: red, blue, yellow, green. One girl held her slime over the edge of the lab's countertop - with a scientist holding his hand beneath in case the gel dropped - and used gravity to stretch the bright blue substance as far as it would go.
After one group had made a few slimes, another girl started to lead the experiment herself, adding the components without the need for instruction. "Do we have time to make another one?" she asked, six petri dishes filled with slime already stacked up next to her.
The scientist laughed, then helped the group start the next combination. "She is going to be running experiments" someday, a summer counselor said.
Throughout the process, Kolltan's researchers tried to give students a sense of what it means to be a scientist. The wife of researcher Ed Natoli teaches chemistry at a school in New London and designed the experiment to give LEAP's students a lab experience. While one of the polymers was just Elmer's glue, Natoli explained, the lab's scientists use linkers and polymers in their own research.
When one group pointed out that its slime had started spinning more slowly, a researcher didn't just offer up an answer. Instead, he helped the kids think through the question.
Once students had made all their slime, they gathered in a conference room to discuss their findings. Was each slime sticky? Or stretchy? Did it change shape? Students simulated a polymer by standing at the front of the room and linking arms. Holding their arms extended as far as they could simulated long linkers, like those in the slimes that stretched. Arms held tightly by their sides mimicked the short linkers in rigid slimes.
With brightly colored slime that formed every time, the morning's experiment had given the kids experience with research-lite - fast and consistent results, easy analysis. Vice President of Research Yaron Hadari shared with students the commitment and hard work needed for actual scientific research. "Science is a very long process," he said, describing the journey from asking questions to experimenting to measuring and analyzing results. "To get the answer," he said, "it requires many years of dedicated work."
For 9-year-old Onjya Fortt, playing with the slime proved a highlight of the experience. Added research scientist Ada Vaill, mixing the polymers and linkers in the lab allowed students to see a chemical change, but playing with the slime allowed them to physically feel the transformation. "It was cold!" Fortt noted.
At the end of the visit, students left the lab in a line, toting their new lab coats and bunches of brightly colored slime. Researcher Sandy Rocks said she hoped the kids would bring the slime home and show it off to their siblings. Rocks realized she wanted to become a scientist in sixth grade, she said. Maybe, some of LEAP's kids will do the same.
Less than two years ago, the joint venture team of Winstanley Enterprises and Surrey Equities acquired the historic Norwichtown Mall with a vision of rejuvenating the shopping center into thriving retail space.
Recently the development team gathered with business, political and community
leaders at a public event to celebrate the official grand opening of Norwichtown Commons.
State senator Cathy Osten, state representative Kevin Ryan, Mayor Peter Nystrom, city manager Alan Bergren and several members of the city council headlined a group of dignitaries joining Winstanley Enterprises and Surrey Equities to celebrate this official milestone. The group recognized the community effort that was put forward to make the project a success, and also showcased the retailers that call Norwichtown Commons home.
The development team broke ground on Norwichtown Commons in May of 2012, and
has reconfigured the mall into an open air retail complex of 160,000 s/f. The former mall now features improved parking and visibility.
Norwichtown Commons currently features Stop & Shop, Dress Barn, Lucky House
restaurant Fancy Nails, Hair Cuttery, Petsense, Dollar Tree and Big Lots. Soon to open will be Planet Fitness and Yogurt City, while a few retail spaces remain available for lease. "We could not be more proud to see the vision that we had nearly two years ago transformed into reality here today," said Adam Winstanley, a principal of Winstanley Enterprises.
"We especially applaud the retailers who have chosen Norwich as your home for years to come," said Edward Silvera, president and principal of Surrey Equities. "This community has fond memories of the Norwichtown Mall, and now has the chance to create future memories here at Norwichtown Commons."
Two companies--one based in Massachusetts, the other based in New York City--have purchased the Rhode Island Mall for $38 million.
Winstanley Enterprises, LLC of Concord, MA, and Surrey Equities, LLC of New York, NY, have acquired the historic 450,000 square-foot Warwick, RI mall for $38 million. The seller was GLL Real Estate Partners from Orlando, FL.
The Rhode Island Mall's rich history
The Rhode Island Mall originally opened as the Midland Mall in 1967 as the first two-level enclosed shopping mall in New England. The mall portion of the property, totaling 225,000 square-feet, has been vacant since closing in April of 2011. The remaining stand-alone retail space is currently anchored by Sears, Wal-Mart, and Kohls.
"There is a rich history with this property, and we are very excited to breathe new life into the development by putting together a plan that will once again position the mall as a vibrant part of Warwick's retail hub," said Adam Winstanley, a Principal of Winstanley Enterprises.
A detailed plan and renderings are premature at this time, but the development team of Winstanley Enterprises and Surrey Equities intends to renovate the interior and exterior sections of the mall. The project goal would create larger tenant spaces that cater to anchor tenants.
"We look forward to working with the business and local community as well as city officials to create new jobs as this project moves forward," said Edward Silvera, president and principal of Surrey Equities. "We are eager to revitalize the vacant portion of the mall into a thriving retail space."
Jobs to Warwick
The project is anticipated to bring about 225 construction jobs to Warwick and about 150 permanent and part time jobs once the stores open. Preliminary concept design work and permitting is scheduled to continue throughout the next six to nine months.
The Rhode Island Mall is located at 650 Bald Hill Road in Rhode Island's retail capital of Warwick. The mall is conveniently positioned at the intersection of Route 2, I-95 and I-295.
Cushman & Wakefield represented the seller on the transaction and Eastern Retail Properties represented the buyers.
Winstanley Enterprises, LLC. currently owns and operates 43 buildings totaling approximately 5.5 million square feet throughout New England. Since the early 1990s, Winstanley has acquired in excess of 80 properties exceeding 10 million square feet of real estate throughout the eastern United States. The portfolio currently consists of a wide variety of commercial properties, including industrial/warehouse, R&D, office, Biotech, and retail.
Winstanley has completed several successful RI projects including acquisition and redevelopment of the former Hasbro Warehouse in Pawtucket, RI, and the acquisition and redevelopment of 10 Risho and 70 Catamore Blvd in the East Providence, RI industrial park.
Surrey Equities, LLC. is a real estate investment and management firm. Surrey Equities' mission is to acquire value-added investment opportunities throughout the eastern half of the United States and create a tailored strategy to achieve goals. In conjunction with their affiliate firm, Silvera Asset Group, LLC, Surry Equities own over 1,500,000 square feet. Their portfolio consists of retail, office and flex properties.
Developers presented modifications Wednesday night to the building plan for a retail center that will be known as "Chelmsford Commons" at the old Stop and Shop plaza across from the Adams Library on Boston Road.
"There's a building you see there with the faded metal, but everything will get ripped off, and everything will be all new," said Adam Winstanley, principal of Winstanley Enterprises, the plaza's new ownership group, of his plans for the retail center during the Planning Board meeting.
Construction will start as early as Sept. 1.
About a third of the current structure will be torn down because of asbestos, mold and water leakage in the former Stop and Shop, but the building that once housed Marshall's will be maintained and heavily renovated.
Developers plan to include a glass windowpane across the top of the building, adding natural light. The roof will be copper-colored metal, much more expensive than asphalt shingles, but worth it for its aesthetics and durability, Winstanley said.
"Adding color into retail is very important," he said. "There needs to be some vibrancy."
The space designated for a restaurant will have accordion-folding glass windows to create an open-space feel, developers said.
The Planning Board was unanimously behind the design concepts.
Although Winstanley was not prepared to announce which retailers might be coming to the plaza, he said he's received a lot of response from the market.
"We are getting a lot of interest in coming to this site," he said. "We're certainly headed in the right direction."
Winstanley's attorney Phil Eliopoulos said Winstanley has filed for a special health club permit in case that's something the plaza wants to include in the future.
A followup hearing is scheduled for July 10. The Planning Board expects to hear more about lighting fixtures, landscaping, parking lot traffic flow and signage lighting before moving forward.
WARWICK, R.I. Ñ The Rhode Island Mall's new owners say they plan to "breathe new life" into the property that has been mostly vacant since April 2011.
Winstanley Enterprises, of Concord, Mass., and Surrey Equities, of New York, announced on Thursday that they purchased the 450,000 square-foot property in Warwick from a Florida company for $38 million.
Adam Winstanley, of Winstanley Enterprises, said in a statement that they are putting together a plan to position the mall as a vibrant part of Warwick's retail hub.
They plan to redesign the mall's interior to create larger spaces for anchor tenants.
Standalone space on the property is occupied by Sears, Walmart, and Kohls.
The mall opened in 1967 as the Midland Mall.
Norwich - The dozens of business representatives, residents and city officials who walked into the former Norwichtown Mall for the last time Thursday thought back to their past favorite stores - Debutant, Beebe's Dairy, Caldor and Waldenbooks, among others.
But the mood wasn't somber or nostalgic but cheerful and excited, as the new mall owner displayed several poster boards with renderings of what will be the reconstructed Norwichtown Commons.
"This is exciting, jobs coming to Norwich," Human Services Director Beverly Goulet said.
More than 50 people gathered inside what used to be the main entrance into the Caldor department store to hear Adam Winstanley of Winstanley Enterprises LLC describe the $7.5 million project to tear down the center portion of the mall and replace it with a smaller plaza with stores that will each have their own entrances.
"As soon as everyone clears out of here," Winstanley said, "we're going to start knocking down the mall."
The project will bring about 350 construction jobs to the city and about 75 permanent jobs once the stores open, he said.
Winstanley Enterprises LLC of Concord, Mass., purchased the mostly vacant mall from Edens & Avant Investment Limited Partnership for $15.75 million last July and received permit approval a month later for the reconstruction plan.
The economy cannot support mid-size malls that once thrived in communities such as Norwich, Winstanley said. With Internet shopping growing, Winstanley and partner Surrey Equities couldn't find interest in the 100,000-square-foot former Caldor building at the end of the mall. So plans call for cutting that space in half, to 50,000 square feet, and marketing it to two "junior anchor stores" expected to be announced soon.
Overall, the size of the mall will be reduced from 300,000 square feet to about 168,000 square feet, Winstanley said. Phase one of construction will cover the section from the existing Dress Barn Store, already renovated, to the former Caldor space and is expected to be completed by Christmas.
Phase two, the reconstruction of the former Caldor space, is expected to start in the summer and be completed in early 2013.
Signed leases for the first phase include the existing Stop & Shop, which just signed a 10-year lease extension, and Dress Barn, as well as the return of Dollar Tree and Fancy Nails and a new PetSense, Hair Cuttery and Chinese restaurant.
Thousands of apartments, condos, cottages and lofts are coming to this suburb north of Hartford - and all of the housing is to be set in the heart of the town's sprawling corporate office corridor.
Called Great Pond Village, the $1 billion development is intended to give employees who now drive an average 35 minutes to work at the Day Hill Road office park the opportunity to ditch the commute altogether.
The idea is to "create the old New England village where we have a walkable, mixed-use village center," and enough housing choices to accommodate a variety of age groups, said David Winstanley, a principal with the developer, Winstanley Enterprises of Concord, Mass. The company is working in partnership with the property owner, ABB, a Swiss corporation specializing in power and automation technologies.
About 80 percent of Windsor's current residential stock is single-family homes, according to Peter Souza, the town manager. Some corporate employers have complained that the lack of housing diversity hurts their efforts to recruit younger workers.
"The town hasn't seen a new rental complex in more than 30 years," Mr. Souza said.
The development will mark the renewal of a 653-acre site that has undergone an intensive cleanup over the past decade for radiological and chemical contamination.
Beginning in the 1950s, Combustion Engineering performed research, development and manufacturing of nuclear fuel on the property under a contract with the Atomic Energy Commission. ABB acquired Combustion Engineering in 1990, and took on the lengthy cleanup process.
The final phase of remediation began in August 2009, and ABB anticipates spending a total of $140 million by the time the cleanup is complete, according to Bob Fesmire, a corporate spokesman. The company must satisfy standards set by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection. About half the site was declared free of any contamination.
The thriving Day Hill Road office corridor provides some 20,000 jobs in a range of industries, including finance, insurance and transportation. Office buildings and service plazas line either side of the broad boulevard, save for a stretch taken up by fields of shade tobacco, a crop used for cigar wrappers. The approved master plan for Great Pond Village - named for a 20-acre pond on the property - calls for 4,010 new housing units (about half rentals), and 853,000 square feet of commercial space, including 85,000 square feet of neighborhood-style retail.
About half of the acreage in the development will become parks, or be set aside as conservation land. In particular, some 200 acres in the northern portion of the site, which borders the Farmington River and a 500-acre public park, will be left undisturbed.
The size of the project promises a significant expansion of Windsor's roughly 28,500-strong population, but the growth will be gradual. The project has a timeline of 14 to 20 years.
"This is a very forward-thinking land-use pattern," Mr. Souza said. "We're trying to look out over a longer horizon."
A study conducted by TischlerBise, a Maryland consulting firm, determined that tax revenues generated by the development will exceed town-borne costs for emergency services, schools and infrastructure by as much as $43 million over 20 years.
Windsor is one of a growing number of towns using high-density development to address problems like overburdened highways, unaffordable housing, suburban sprawl and dwindling numbers of young people.
Other towns have sought to place such development near mass transit, which is lacking at the 1970s-era Day Hill zone. Yet by putting housing within that zone, Windsor will help decrease auto dependence in the state capital region by making it easier for people to live near their workplaces, said David Kooris, the director of the Connecticut office of the Regional Plan Association, a tristate group.
Ideally, he added, the town would never have developed "this massive office corridor that sucked the life out of Hartford. But the reality is, all that office space is not going to go anywhere."
Windsor does have an Amtrak rail station with limited commuter-rail service. Long-term plans for high-speed rail service linking New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, over the Massachusetts border, may eventually result in shuttle service between Windsor's station and the Day Hill area, Mr. Souza said.
Mr. Winstanley says developers will initially pay for any needed public road and utility improvements. The legislature has granted the project Special Taxing District authority, so bonds may be issued after new buildings go on the tax rolls, and 50 percent of the property tax allocation will go to retire the bonds.
The first phase, which could be under way as soon as 2012, will include 400 housing units, Mr. Winstanley said.
He acknowledged that the poor economy could slow the project's progress, but said that housing market conditions might also work in its favor.
"I think there's going to be more people who can't afford houses or condos," he said. "And more people moving out of their houses because they can no longer afford them."
The Norwichtown Mall has been sold for $15.75 million and its new owner plans to partially demolish it as part of a $7.5 million redevelopment aimed at making the shopping center smaller and more attractive.
Concord, Mass.-based Winstanley Enterprises LLC on Friday completed purchase of the mall from Edens and Avant, NorwichBulletin.com first reported Monday. Rebuilding is scheduled to be completed six to nine months after demolition, Norwich Community Development Corp. Executive Director Bob Mills said. "Their plans are very aggressive," he said.
Site work is slated to begin Oct. 1, creating 150 construction jobs, principal Adam Winstanley said Monday. The portion that will be torn down, which is a little more than half of the existing structure, will be rebuilt with shop windows facing the parking lot. Entrances to most of the mall's stores are indoors.
Mall will shrink
The mall's overall size will be reduced to 155,000 square feet from the current 230,000, the company and NCDC said in a joint press release.
"We think it's a great site, but it's tired," Adam Winstanley said. "We want to put a new facade on it and breathe some new life into the place."
New York-based Silvera Asset Group is partnering with Winstanley with Silvera handling leasing and Winstanley managing permitting and development, Adam Winstanley said.
"We've worked with them before," he said. "It's a good company. We have a strong partnership."
Mayor Peter Nystrom released a letter Monday in which he praised the project.
"Over the past several years, we have recognized the need for improvements to the center and were therefore pleased when we reviewed your redevelopment plans," Nystrom's June 30 letter to Adam Winstanley says. "We feel confident that this project will inject new life into the center while maintaining its existing character."
Winstanley praised the cooperation it's getting from city agencies.
"All things considered, we have a very positive feeling about this investment," Adam Winstanley said.
The Town Street mall is one of Norwich's most visible shopping properties, home to a Stop & Shop supermarket and Dress Barn, but has fallen on hard times in recent years, with troubles attracting and retaining tenants. Stop & Shop, Dress Barn and GNC Nutrition are being retained as tenants, Winstanley said.
The Norwichtown Mall deal is the second recent big-ticket purchase of a large, lackluster Norwich asset. Another Massachusetts company, Plymouth-based Joyal Capital Management, agreed to buy The Marina at American Wharf for $750,000 earlier this month.
'We are blessed'
Winstanley has other holdings in Connecticut and a "top-shelf" reputation, Mills said.
"I'm thrilled," the NCDC director said. "We are blessed to have them. It's going to be a great project."
Mills noted that finding a developer with the track record and assets to see the project through to completion should excite Eastern Connecticut shoppers, as well as Norwich residents and taxpayers.
"(Winstanley) sets things up for the future," Mills said. "We need to have these kinds of projects in the best capable hands. And now we have that."
Winstanley paid $196,875 in conveyance tax as a result of the transaction, according to records on file in the city clerk's office. The company hasn't filed for demolition permits, said Darlene Fedus-Papineau, administrative secretary in the Norwich zoning office.
Founded in 1973 by David Winstanley, the company is run by David, along with his two sons, Carter and Adam. It has office, industrial and retail holdings in several towns in Connecticut, including Berlin, Bloomfield, Orange and Rocky Hill, according to Winstanley's website.