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City, Uconn Mending Rift

Officials Say They're On Path To Better Relationship After Meeting

Carlesso, Jenna

August 15, 2013

The city is forging a stronger partnership with the University of Connecticut.

That was the message that came out of a private meeting Wednesday among city officials and UConn leaders.

Those attending included Mayor Pedro Segarra, city council President Shawn Wooden, UConn President Susan Herbst and university board Chairman Lawrence McHugh.

The meeting was held nearly three weeks after letters were exchanged among the university and city officials. In one, Segarra expressed disapproval over UConn's choice of location for its downtown Hartford campus, the former Hartford Times building on Prospect Street.

Segarra and Wooden said the university should consider other sites because an educational institution would divide the Front Street area, a growing entertainment district. The city is also looking to develop the area just north of downtown.

But on Wednesday, both sides indicated that they were working toward a better relationship that would give Hartford more say in the process.

"We are all committed to making this a win-win for both parties and ensuring that the new campus is designed and built to meet the needs of UConn students and faculty while adding incredible new life to downtown Hartford," officials said in a prepared joint statement. None of those attending the meeting would comment beyond the official statement.

"While all of us understand and agree that the development of the downtown north area is critically important to the city, the former Hartford Times building remains UConn's preferred location.

"The city will support the results of UConn's due diligence process on the Times Building site and will fully participate in the design of the final site, including evaluating traffic concerns and the possibility of job opportunities for Hartford residents and contractors.

"The city and UConn have pledged to work together when the final chosen site is developed and on the programmatic initiatives and educational programs that will be housed in downtown Hartford."

The long-vacant Times building, on Prospect Street, was selected from a field of 13 potential sites in the downtown area. The city had proposed a vacant, city-owned property on the northern edge of downtown. It had suggested 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.

But officials later withdrew that proposal "with the understanding that UConn would include the city's interests in the selection process and allow us to influence the location of the campus," Wooden and Segarra wrote in their letter to Herbst in July.

UConn was expected to negotiate an agreement with HB Nitkin, which had proposed the Times site for the university. If a final agreement is reached, UConn's board of trustees must approve the deal.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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