A small ghost town in Moodus finally has an owner and it's one that officials said came out of nowhere.
A Filipino mega-church has bought the 62 acres of waterfront land on Johnsonville Road.
This buyer was a surprise for many because officials said it only took a matter of weeks before the papers were signed on Friday. Now, there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the property.
This Moodus village that's been a ghost town for decades, was alive and jam-packed on Friday. Members of Iglesia Ni Cristo, which is a self-described non-denominational, Christian church, originating in the Philippines, were on hand on Friday. With members in more than 130 countries and churches in Windham, Plainville and Stamford, this Moodus village is shaping up to be a resort for its members.
“We're always looking for properties where our brethren can spend their activities and enjoy this property,” G.P. Santos, who is the head legal counsel for Iglesia Ni Cristo said.
The village on Johnsonville Road has been unoccupied for years now and it has all the fixings needed for a community, a school, church, general store and even a lake for recreation. East Haddam First Selectman Emmet Lyman remembers what it was like in the 70s.
“He'd have horses and wagons, everything laid out with lights,” Lyman said. “It was just Victorian, all the way.”
After trying for years to find a buyer, just a month ago, the Iglesia Ni Cristo swooped in and made an offer.
“To hear, right out of the blue, that they're going to close in eight-10 days from the time we heard about it, it took our breath away,” Lyman said.
The papers were signed on Friday.
The church buying the land for a little more than $1.8 million. They promised to restore these buildings and build new ones. They said it's very similar to another land purchase they made in South Dakota. Eyewitness News asked what their vision was for this village.
“Retreat for our activities, a lot of things will happen,” Santos said. “I hope we can also invite the community here.”
Since the deal was done quickly, firm plans are still in its infancy. The town with an Asian population of less than 1 percent is soon going to be very diverse.
Eyewitness News caught up with locals such as Bess Contois, who is the only barber in town. She's ready to welcome her new neighbors.
“Moodus used to be all resorts. I used to go to Banner Lodge in the 70s and people from all over the United States came here,” Contois said. “It's a nice resort town, so I think that's good.”
Right now, there's no timeframe as to how long it will take to rehab some of these buildings
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