City Proposes UConn Campus Relocation For Downtown North
by KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
March 14, 2013
The city of Hartford has proposed that the University of Connecticut relocate its West Hartford campus to now-vacant, city-owned land on the northern edge of downtown.
According to the proposal provided to me this morning by the city, the city has proposed leasing the 3-acre parcel at 1214 Main St. for $1 a year to the university so UConn could construct a 237,000-square-foot facility on the site.
The city also owns land surrounding the site — in an area designated as “Downtown North” — that would provide space for future expansion, the proposal states.
The city’s proposal is among 13 submitted to the UConn after it sought in January to widen its search for a downtown Hartford site for the campus. Details have also emerged on a proposal by LAZ Parking’s Alan Lazowski for the area on Main Street near One Talcott Plaza and another by Developer HB Nitkin Group for Front Street.
The university widened its search after approving $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center. It’s unclear if that building is among the 13 proposals.
The city’s proposal doesn’t include a cost estimate for construction and cost details have not emerged on the other projects.
UConn declined to comment. The university has not commented on any of the proposals or any of the sites it had considered before widening its search.
In a letter accompanying the proposal, Thomas E. Deller, director of development services, wrote that the city hopes the university will strongly consider the Downtown North area as option for the relocated campus.
“A university presence will create an institutional bookend to the benefits of residents and businesses by cultivating community along downtown’s border with the North End neighborhoods,” Deller wrote.
The land targeted by the city is located near both the Capital Preparatory Magnet School, the Rensselaer at Hartford Graduate Center and Capital Community College. Downtown North also has been an area targeted for new housing.
The city said 100 parking spaces would likely be available on the same parcel where the college building could be construction. Another 900 spaces are in the immediate area.
Construction of a new parking garage within the first five years of the university relocating to the area also is a possibility. The project would be a joint venture between UConn and the city and would be a more desirable alternative to existing lots.
The city proposal said the new police and fire complex nearby would enhance “perceptions of safety.”
Urban planners and land-use experts from the Urban Land Institute, who visited Hartford last month and are focusing on the revitalization of Albany Avenue in the North End, talked about the importance of Downtown North.
They mentioned the benefit of the area being used for higher education or student housing.
The area has its challenges because it is physically, if not psychologically, separated from the rest of downtown by I-84.
If selected by UConn, the city’s proposal would require city council approval.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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