Former Broadcast House Site Proposed For UConn Relocation

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The owner of the former Broadcast House on Hartford’s Constitution Plaza  has offered the site for the relocation of the University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus to the city’s downtown.

Builder Abul Islam has submitted a proposal to UConn for the property at the corner of State Street and Columbus Boulevard, a spokesman for Islam confirmed for me.

Christopher Stone, the spokesman, said the building could be of a comparable size to Islam’s plan for an apartment tower on the property. The apartment tower was envisioned to be 15 stories with 195 rental units at a cost of about $50 million.

The site of the former Boardcast House is being proposed for the relocation of UConn's West Hartford campus. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The site of the former Broadcast House is being proposed for the relocation of UConn’s West Hartford campus. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

Islam’s proposal is among 13 submitted to the university after it widened its search for a suitable location for the relocated campus. Late last year, UConn confirmed that it would sell its West Hartford campus and relocate to downtown Hartford, amid high costs to renovate the existing campus.

UConn today declined comment on the Islam proposal.

UConn hasn’t commented on any sites it has considered or any of the 13 proposals.  But the university did agree to spend $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center, a location UConn was widely known to be looking at. The university hasn’t commented on the study, but the decision in January to widen its search raised questions about its intentions for the education center.

Details have emerged on the some of the locations, however. They include the area in and around One Talcott Plaza; Front Street including the old Hartford Times Building; and a vacant city-owned parcel in “Downtown North.”

Read more about the other proposals here.

Stone emphasized that the UConn proposal does not mean that Islam, owner of AI Engineering in Middletown, is shelving the apartment plan.

“This should in no way be read as an abandonment of those plans,” Stone told me.

Islam is still trying to line up funding from  state economic development agencies, plus private financing.

The potential for developing the UConn campus on Constitution Plaza does represent another viable option for the site, Stone said.

Islam has already sunk more than $2 million of his own money into the project, buying Broadcast House in 2008 and demolishing it a year later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Former Broadcast House Site Proposed For UConn Relocation

  1. mike

    Best spot for a downtown capus.

    The owner for years has talked about including an education component in his building so he can give back to the community that allowed him to be a success.

    Also its on constitution plaza, so it has a nice public space to encourage interaction with the city, but also be a little seperated from it. (lots of good places to read and study)
    it also has great highway access and is an asy walk to the river, and the heart of downtown.

    the hotel next door should be approved as student housing too. if its apartments thats fine, but thereis still student housing on Temple street between market and main.

    I do still want thos to be 195 apartments though. thats a very good proposal as well.

    1. Patrick

      Yeah, I agree we definitely don’t want to lose the apartments as well. Hopefully they end up doing both. The 195 apartments and UCONN would just help each other immensely, when lokking at Islam getting financing for the project and the campus there would help make the the apartments more desirable.

      If this doesn’t happen, Front Street would be my 2nd choice based on what I’ve heard so far aoub the 13 sites.

      1. Patrick

        Sorry, typing too fast, mean’t to say

        “The 195 apartments and UCONN would just help each other immensely, partly with Islam looking to get financing for the project UCONN being attached to it, would make that easier. Also, the campus at the locatino would help make the the apartments more desirable.”

  2. DR

    Not a bad idea, and much better than the lunacy of Downtown North.

    At this site, students would have easy access to downtown, the river, front street and mass transportation, with buses being just a block away and others stopping right in front. Would be a good boost for downtown and a very visible, high profile location for UCONN.

  3. Catspaw

    “the university did agree to spend $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center” ?

    The university sure has a free spending attitude. Who and what is a quarter million being spent on?

    Travelers has all the detailed capacities and parking details. UConn has all the existing specifications at the West Hartford campus.

    Not that it matters, of course, it’s just a quarter million bucks to study something with all the details already known.

    Mr. Islam seems to be saying he will let UConn buy his empty lot? With so many vacant buildings in Hartford why would UConn pay for a new building and why are they paying a quarter million to evaluate a Travelers building designed from the start as an educational facility?

    Does UConn really need to move to Hartford? Why again is the West Hartford campus undesirable?

  4. Unhealthy Jim

    I wonder if MD Islam is having a hard time building his tower because he is unwilling to pay the bribes it takes to get the financing in place. He seems like a nice guy and his apartment idea is ideally suited for that area. It is a shame that the mob is taking away his dream. I bet John Roland has something to do with it too. He is a really bad man.

  5. Ralph

    I have written several responses arguing against the move from the West Hartford campus to downtown. Replies have accused me of being bigoted, ignorant and anti downtown. I am none of the above.

    I have worked at the UConn West Hartford campus for 15 years and I live about half a mile from the campus. I am well aware that the campus needs major repairs although I honestly believe that the $25 million figure is absurd. If the administration that wants to move the campus had maintained the campus, the $25 million would be much less. There are many school buildings in the state that are much older and have many years of future usage because they have been kept well.

    The major arguments for moving that I have read are the revitalization of downtown and more opportunities for students. I have to disagree respectfully with both of these arguments. A move will definitely bring more students downtown. But the students will not live downtown, patronize the stores there or take advantage of the cultural opportunities there.

    Most UConn Hartford students are 18 or 19, living with their parents and work 20 to 30 hours per week. They stay at the branch for two years and then go to Storrs to complete their BA requirements. In the current location, they go to classes, hang in the cafeteria for lunch and go on to their job and family responsibilities. The current campus is conveniently located near three bus lines. There is plenty of free safe parking less than a five minute walk from the campus.

    Moving the campus downtown will only make their situation more difficult. I don’t have to tell anybody reading this that the downtown traffic is a mess especially for students west of Hartford. Students east of Hartford often find the Storrs campus more convenient. While I am sure that the campus and Hartford police will go to great efforts to ensure student safety, no one will argue that downtown is safer than West Hartford.

    I am not naive enough to think that the move will not occur, especially with so many political contributors with unused buildings downtown. I can only hope that President Herbst (who has only visited the campus once) will come to her senses, stop this nonsense and put the money where it belongs, in renovating a usable, safe campus where students can get a useful education and go on with their lives.

  6. Crazy Eddie

    “But the university did agree to spend $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center”

    Huh? That’s a lot of coin to spend analyzing a 5 story 30 year old building. I bet the Hartford Assessor can tell you everything you need to know for about $1 a page.

  7. PatriotInCT

    I read for a while until I saw someone point out an obvious flaw with this plan. The parking situation and traffic make the proposed location less desirable than its current West Hartford campus. An online map view shows the large West Hartford campus grounds, and the tiny footprint proposed in Hartford.

    A quarter million $ to study a Travelers site?
    A journalist with journalistic integrity should investigate this further. What could cost so much? The quarter million could be better invested in a new campus in the outskirts of town, or to simply upgrade the West Hartford campus.

    There is also the possibility of expanding the UConn Law School facility by adding a few buildings and a multi-level parking garage. There is not much room there now, per online maps. UConn has intelligent, creative people, so it would provide a real world challenge for engineering students and professors. Why spend money on consultants to do these expensive studies when they can be done internally and a consultant can be hired to provide a critical review at a modest cost?

    I wonder if a cheap study could be done of the UConn Stamford downtown campus location, and the Groton campus? What were the issues those two locations faced when they were opened, and could they be avoided in downtown Hartford?

    1. J M

      A study of the successful move to downtown Stamford would reveal that one of the great advantages of cities is the ability to fit many functions into a relatively small amount of space. In fact, cities function best when buildings occupy their entire sites and are not set back from sidewalks (lawns and shrubbery can create deadzones). So there’s no reason to think that the sites proposed for Hartford that look small on a map would be unworkable. Those are likely to be the best locations, insofar as they are best integrated into the current urban fabric. In the case of the Constitution Plaza proposal, building vertically would easily provide the needed space for students, and underground parking or a connection to the plaza’s 1,000+ existing spaces should be feasible. Plus, the site is within easy walking distance of several dozen restaurants, as well as cultural attractions and internship opportunities.

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