Allyn Street Property Proposed For UConn Relocation

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford, Hartford Redevelopment Date:
A two-acre parking lot on Allyn Street, owned by a New York development company, is among the downtown Hartford sites proposed for a UConn satellite campus relocation.

A two-acre parking lot on Allyn Street, owned by a New York development company, is among the downtown Hartford sites proposed for a UConn satellite campus relocation. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com.

A two-acre parking lot on the north side of Allyn Street — the proposed location for a 42-story office tower in the 1980s — is another of the 13 proposed sites for relocating UConn’s Greater Hartford campus to downtown Hartford.

Tishman Realty & Construction Corp. of New York City told me this morning the property is among the proposals contending for selection by UConn.

“We can satisfy their proposed program on the site,” Obaid Khan, Tishman chief financial officer, told me. “There is more than adequate room to build.”

Khan said Tishman had not proposed any specific building or parking configuration for the property, in the city’s nightclub district.  The property carries the legal address of 108-154 Allyn St., but Khan referred to it as 180 Allyn.

It wasn’t immediately known if UConn has sought more information on Tishman’s proposal.

UConn has said it has sought more information for a “handful” of the most promising proposals, but it has declined to identify any of the proposed sites or those it is considering. Two weeks ago, UConn said it has not definitively ruled out any proposed locations.

Read more here about some of the proposed sites.

UConn declined to comment today and did not have an update on its site selection, which the university hopes to wrap up by early summer. UConn sought the proposals in late January after first studying the former Travelers Education Center on Constitution Plaza.

Last week, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and another city official told The Courant that two sites — One Talcott Plaza, just north of the former G. Fox building and the old Hartford Times building at Front Street — were leading contenders. Segarra also mentioned the former bank processing center on Windsor Street, immediately north of downtown.

The parking lot from the corner of High and Church streets. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The parking lot from the corner of High and Church streets. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Thomas E. Deller, the city’s chief development, indicated there also was the possibility of a fourth site, which Deller hadn’t determined.

The Allyn Street property is bounded by Allyn, Church and High streets and now contains nearly 300 parking spaces. It has long been known as the Oakleaf site after a developer that went bankrupt after trying to develop an office tower.

In the 1990s, the property also was considered as a potential location for the Connecticut Convention Center, later built at Adriaen’s Landing. Just west of the Hartford Civic Center — now renamed the XL Center — also made it a possible site for a second sports arena.

The property was cleared of a car dealership, a gas station and other buildings when the skyscraper was envisioned. The parking lot replaced a dirt lot when the tower wasn’t built.

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18 thoughts on “Allyn Street Property Proposed For UConn Relocation

  1. mike

    not sure of this as a campus location, but it would be great to see this lot developed.

    proximity to the train station with commputer rail coming in future years would make this an ideal location for pretty much anything.

  2. DR

    I agree with Mike. This lot is great evidence of CT’s bad business climate – a great lot ideally situated in downtown and no one wants to build on it. In a more desirable city, this would be offices or condos in minutes.

    1. mike

      well, yes and no,

      CT may have a “bad business climate” but downtown Hartford has more office space and white collar jobs that most cities its size in the country. this lot remained undeveloped because there was a massive realestate bubble burst in 1991 that hit hartford particularily bad. partly because it hit the financial institutions that were headquarterd here but also because the buildings once proposed for the downtown destroyed acres and acres of old buildings and left us with parking lots.

      had the skyscrapers been built, or the old buildings been left intact, the city would not have strugged so much between 1992-2004

      the only saving grace of these holes in downtown is that they can become literally anything.. so the potential to fix the past is very much there, it just requires vision and a good deal of investment.

      UConn moving their campus is one such example.

      1. J L

        Thank you, Mike, for a thoughtful and well-reasoned explanation. Every city has lots like these, and the suburbs have hundreds of them. They simply aren’t as evident in suburban environments where neglected properties are easily hidden and many people driving by quickly are unlikely to notice them. I would also point out that this particular site is at the epicenter of downtown’s college bar area. That distinction could be a draw or a deterrent, depending on students’ own preferences. In any case, the advantages and drawbacks of locating near bars are most strongly felt on weekend nights, and thus less likely to influence daytime academic functions.

  3. Ralph

    It seems that every developer who is stuck with an empty building or lot downtown wants UConn to come in, overpay for the property and get him off the hook.

    I have worked at the branch for many years and I have never seen such an unpopular decision. The campus does need some serious renovation but it is convenient, safem comfortable and well fitted for student needs. Most undergraduate students come to classes, socialize in the cafeteria for a while and then go to their jobs and family responsibilities. The allure of downtown, such as it is, means nothing to them.

    Downtown classes will simply add to their commute, make the parking situation more difficult and add safety concerns as opposed to a suburban campus.

    I know that student and staff concerns mean nothing when a major Democratic contributor has a white elephant building but these are issues that should be addressed.

    1. JL

      As we have seen from his many previous posts, Ralph is troubled at the thought of major changes at the school where he has worked for many years. Comments from current and former students, however, show that many are open to the prospect of a campus more centrally located and better engaged with the capital city. Those students currently opposed to the move will have graduated by the time the new campus opens, and those who replace them will have matriculated with full knowledge (and likely much appreciation) of the new location.

      Many will benefit from the enhanced transit connections of a downtown location (the current campus has virtually no bus service after 6pm and limited options during the day). Therein lies one of the major drawbacks, invisible to those who erroneously assume that all students can afford private cars, of a suburban campus: access is severely and unnecessarily impaired. For those who do drive, parking will certainly be available downtown (the RFP specifies that 800 or more spaces must be provided). In all likelihood, parking will be located closer to academic buildings downtown than at the current location, and may even be covered against the elements for the first time.

      Students will benefit also from the ability to walk to internship and cultural opportunities at dozens of employers (including several Fortune 1000 companies), the country’s oldest public art museum, nationally recognized theaters, the site of the first Amistad trial, the Bushnell, and numerous other institutions.

      Ralph concedes that major renovations to the current campus are already necessary, and in light of the asbestos and remediation issues likely to be encountered during such a process, the alternative of a move back to Hartford becomes that much more desirable.

      Although the move is a definite advantage for the city, the university and its students, faculty and staff will be equal beneficiaries. Their new facilities, more accessible location, and proximity to abundant employment and cultural resources will be valuable new assets.

      1. mike

        well said, but it can also be said that this must be a little traumatic for the staff who live west of Hartford, their commute will be longer and they are simply comfortable with what they have. Heck, for all we know, there will be some layoffs in facility maintenance, and certainly in the lawn care department.

        I completely understand why some would be against this move, but it is absolutely for the better of the city, and likely for the betterment of UConn. Further, it does not hurt West Hartford hardly if at all.

        and sure, some lucky land owner will get a new tenant or be able to sell their land at a possible profit, but Uconn will also be able to sell its land at a profit when a provate developer comes along to build houses on the current campus location.

        any relocation either in public or private circles costs one party and benefits another.

        If this relocation pumps 70 million into downtown, and that 70 million ends up spurring an additional 70 million in private investment by the property owner we have a huge success. It stands to reason that whatever Uconn does here will help surrounding businesses and property owners. It may also increase demand for housing and again spur even more development. If UConn ends up leasing and not buying it even helps the tax rolls of the city.

        70 million spent at the current campus will not multiply with private investment and would simply serve to further insulate the campus from the world around it. The current campus while well located has no retail or cultural institutions easily accessable, while the downtown school will as stated above be able to partner with many institutions and provide a more fluid and dynamic student life.

        I totally understand the suspicion and the concern about the move, but there are far more wins downtown than there are losses.

        unfortunately for Ralph, this is stressful change.

    2. Krock

      I went to the West Harford Branch, it’s a DUMP. The cafe or food court there is a joke. I also went to school while I worked full time like many students at the branch locations. Guess where I worked?! Downtown Hartford-so I for one would have preferred to have a campus downtown.

      1. J L

        Thank you, Krock, for sharing your valuable perspective as a former student and for reminding us that a downtown location is helpful not only for students seeking future employment but also for those already working in the city.

  4. Unhealthy Jim

    Ralph is a sourpuss. I would think that the move would reduce the commute of all students east of the CT River. Surface parking lots are cash cows for their owners. That is why there are so many of them in Hartford and other smaller cities…

  5. Patrick Ladd

    I’m more concerned about preserving the WH baseball fields, especially the Miracle League field, if the property is sold to a commercial developer. And what about the 300 year old oak tree on the site? These all must be preserved. The land is located in a residential zone, has wetlands and is in a flood plain. The best idea for the land is to turn it into a campus-like single high school for the town. Then sell the land from the existing high schools to housing developers.

    1. mike

      That would cost West Hartford over 300 million ballpark…

      while amenities are very nice to have, I can only assume that the tax burdden would be more than mostresidents would be willing to bare. especially considerng that both Hall and Conard have good reputations in their current configuration.

      as far as he Oak and the ball fields, usuall key features are noted on the deed during any sale/development proposal. subdivisions generally are required to set aside a certain ammount of open space. the Oak and ball fields count as open space.

  6. Stosh Milward

    I was born and raised in Hartford and ever since the 1960’s during highschool I realized that this City is treated like a colonized third-world country and the Downtown is 100% dominated by outsider ownership and corporate property interests that continue to specualate and invest in outsider developer perspectives that never materialize because they fail to realize market feasibility, design feasibility and financial feasibility intelligence gathering ALWAYS works best from the “inside-out” Return on Investment NOT “outsider-in.”
    That’s why the corporate colonizers convinced City Hall to make Asylum Avenue one way out between 4-6pm week days only.

  7. Frankie

    Asylum Avenue being turned into a one way is another stupid thing this city has done. Does Hartford EVER do anything business friendly? That entire area of Hartford is fueled by out of towners visiting bars and clubs and the city just made it even harder to get around over there by adding yet another one way to this neighborhood. Great job again Hartford!

  8. Dave

    As a former UConn Hartford student I would love have gone to school next to the Wadsworth Athenuem. In theater class, our plays were performed on the Athenuem stage. I image my art class would have been better served by being across the street from a world class museum.

    West Hartford was isolated, nothing was close. The Times Building is in the middle of everything. It seems head and shoulders above all the other locations.

  9. kevin

    good spot for uconn; however, it would be better for uconn to go to front street. its already state land. this site would be incredible for the proper apartment/condo development scheme with some street front retail. near the train station, bars and downtown work hub. think perfect sixes to complement the rest of the older stock apartments in hartford. something low key in terms of size. make this area a liveable neighborhood.

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