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UConn Finalizes Plans To Move Back To Hartford

by Christine Stuart | Jun 3, 2014 4:49pm
(6) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Hartford

Christine Stuart photo

Officials sign the documents with the former Hartford Times building in the background

Plans to move the University of Connecticut’s satellite campus in West Hartford to downtown Hartford were finalized Tuesday by the Board of Trustees after 18 months of negotiations.

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst estimated that the Hartford campus would cost about $115 million, but she warned that the figure was just an early estimate.

The project, which uses the facade of the old Hartford Times building, will be developed by HB Nitkin Group, along with the Capital Region Development Authority, and the state Office of Policy and Management.

“I think it was wrong that UConn didn’t have a major campus in downtown Hartford. It was a mistake,” Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday at a ceremony formalizing the plans. “That mistake is being corrected thanks to the leadership of President Herbst and the Board of the University.”

UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh said the idea to expand to downtown Hartford was hatched at a lunch more than a year ago at the Hartford Club.

A block down the street from the old Hartford Times building where the new campus will be located, McHugh sat down to lunch with Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford Council Chairman Shawn Wooden, and Adam Cloud to discuss the university’s move into Hartford.

Herbst said the move returns UConn to its urban roots where it had been located in 1939 until its move to West Hartford in 1970.

“Its original mission was to provide an urban education setting for our students, and for the city,” Herbst said.

The new Hartford campus will open in 2017.

“We plan on growing and we plan on being a huge economic contributor to the city of Hartford,” McHugh said.

However, this project wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Malloy, he added.

McHugh, who has been appointed to chair the UConn Board of Trustees by five governors, said, “no one has been more committed to higher education than Governor Malloy.”

Former Speaker of the House Tom Ritter, who is also vice chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees, said getting the college to downtown Hartford has been a goal of his for many years. He said that in the late 1990s he was able to help get UConn’s Stamford campus moved to their downtown within a year. He joked that it took a former Stamford mayor to finally give Hartford it’s downtown campus.

He said it will be great for students with all the surrounding amenities downtown, but it will also be great for Connecticut’s workforce.

Ritter told Herbst that she’ll be proud of the buildings and even prouder of the people who build them.

“We will be doing job training for city residents,” Ritter said, referring to the jobs funnel program that trains Hartford residents for the construction trades. University officials said the goal is to award 30 percent of the construction jobs to Hartford residents.

An estimated 2,300 students and about 250 faculty members are expected to fill the classroom spaces in the new building and leased space the university hopes to find at nearby venues like the Wadsworth Atheneum and other locations.

The University of Connecticut Business School has space in Constitution Plaza, which is a few blocks from the new location.

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(6) Comments

posted by: art vandelay | June 3, 2014  9:28pm

art vandelay

Why not a location near Fast Track?  It would reduce parking which will be a problem near the Hartford Times Building.  It would also allow students from the suburbs easier access to the campus.  What will happen to the West Hartford Campus.  Will it become surplus state property and just sit there or will it be sold for other development.

posted by: dano860 | June 4, 2014  7:28am

I went to school across the street from that building, 1965. It was the Pratt & Whitney Training School on Arch St. then.  At that time we had a parking nightmare. I used to pay a weekly rate to park in a lot on Front St. where the new Science Center is located. Three weeks ago I paid $12 for four hours in the parking garage on Front St. at the Convention Center. Let’s hope they plan for a commuting student body, one that will not be using the busway as it stops over a mile away. I doubt that they are planning for dorms and on site living. As of today the area is still congested and confined. The site will present some major problems to the designers trying to make it accessible, user friendly and affordable.

posted by: art vandelay | June 4, 2014  8:52am

art vandelay

@Dano860,
Moving the UConn Campus from West Hartford to downtown, is simply a ploy to entice the young urban population. A question then to be asked is can they afford it.  If so, how academically prepared will they be coming from the Hartford School System which is nowhere near the top ten in the state.  The tax base of Hartford would be better served by allowing the private sector to develop the land.

posted by: PaulW | June 4, 2014  8:56am

Art,
There are a few things at work here that fit nicely into Hartford’s screwed up development history.  When real opportunity presents itself to support meaningful projects in Hartford, politicians all seem to be dumb to the possibilities.

UConn near the busway makes perfect sense. Forget it.

Need to rebuild the Health Center?  Do it in the city? Nah. (Have these people ever been to Boston?).

Invest in the neighborhoods?  No, let’s dump money into Front Street, an architecturally out of scale, pedestrian unfriendly, 1970’s idea for the new millennium.

These are not examples of Monday morning quarterbacking.  They were brought up and ignored.

The Times building is the kind of trophy property that makes people stupid.  It’s gorgeous and I would love to see it put to use.  The façade would have made a great entrance to the science center (which had been suggested) but too late.

And for the record, I worked in Hartford for 15 years and despite living 30 miles away still spend a fair amount of my disposable income there.  I used to drag my co-workers, kicking and screaming sometimes, to Park St., Upper Albany, Blue Hills and the south end for lunch. As a kid, it was my first big city. It’s frustrating to think that after the highways and Constitution Plaza, that lessons should have been learned. That doesn’t appear to be the case.

posted by: art vandelay | June 4, 2014  10:25am

art vandelay

@PaulW,
I couldn’t agree more.  When the Convention Center hosted their first car show, I was socked $9.00 for parking plus admission. There was no on street parking anywhere.  Never again. A relative attended a job fair at the Convention Center and was also hit for parking.  One of my favorite restaurants Ted Montana’s recently opened.  I’ll go to the one in NYC before I ever set foot on Front St.  The idea of using the facade of the Hartford Times Building for the entrance to the Science Center would have been perfect.  The powers to be were VERY short sighted.

posted by: Salmo | June 5, 2014  10:48am

After reading the remarks of some really intelligent people on this blog I think I’m going to be sick! I couldn’t agree with these good folks more. This is nothing more than cheap political theatre to rescue a moribund, decrepit, corrupt city at the expense of a lot of good people. Does anybody really think that Hartford is going to pony up the money to build a stadium? Does anybody really think that professors and students are going to stand still to being forced to drive into the city to go to school? This is awful!!!