HARTFORD—— The University of Connecticut has significantly narrowed its search for a site in downtown Hartford suitable for relocating its campus from West Hartford to the city, the mayor told The Courant's editorial board Wednesday.
Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said that UConn has a short list of three leading contenders, including One Talcott Plaza, at Talcott and Main streets, and the former Hartford Times building at the Front Street development. Segarra also mentioned the former bank processing center on Windsor Street, just north of downtown.
After the meeting, the city's chief development officer, Thomas Deller, confirmed that UConn was seriously considering at least two of the sites.
"I know for sure Talcott and Times are being looked at," Deller said. "I can't readily confirm Windsor Street. There are two definitely, one maybe."
Deller said there was also a fourth possible site, but he had not determined the location.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz declined to comment late Wednesday. She noted that the university had not commented on any specific sites throughout the search process, which began late last year. UConn has said that it expects to make a decision early this summer, and as recently as two weeks ago said that no proposals had been eliminated.
UConn said that it decided to relocate its Greater Hartford campus downtown because it would cost too much to renovate the aging complex in West Hartford. UConn also said that it wanted to contribute to the revitalization of the city.
It appeared that the university originally was favoring the former Travelers Education Center on Constitution Plaza because its board of trustees authorized spending $243,000 to study it. The university has declined to release the study results.
In January, the university widened its search and later drew 13 proposals. The university did not identify the sites, but details about some of them, including the three that the city named Wednesday, have emerged. Among the other sites are the former Broadcast House site on Constitution Plaza and a city-owned parcel on Main Street, just south of the Capital Preparatory Magnet School. The city subsequently withdrew its proposal to lease the Main Street parcel, seeking to work more closely with UConn in selecting a site.
"We decided the city would be better served working with UConn to pick the best location for UConn and for us than competing for one of the sites," Deller said two weeks ago.
The proposal for One Talcott Plaza, submitted by LAZ Parking's Alan Lazowski, would include a renovation of a nearly 900-space parking garage and the construction of a new building. The new building would be on an existing parking lot owned by LAZ, which is between the parking garage and Main Street.
Front Street developer HB Nitkin Group has proposed using the long-vacant Hartford Times building on Prospect Street as the centerpiece of the relocated campus. The Times building is part of a third phase of the Front Street development and had previously been targeted for conversion to apartments.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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