Hartford’s Windsor Street Building Proposed for UConn Campus Relocation

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The former bank data processing center on Windsor Street in Hartford is another of the 13 sites proposed for the relocation of the University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus to city.

The former bank data processing center on Windsor Street in Hartford is proposed for the relocation of the University of Connecticut's West Hartford campus to the city. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

The former bank data processing center on Windsor Street in Hartford is proposed for the relocation of the University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus to the city. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

A broker representing the owner of the bunker-like building at 150 Windsor St., north of the central business district, confirmed for me that the now-vacant structure would get a complete makeover if chosen by UConn.

“It would be taken right down to the steel,” Colleen Sheridan, a broker with O,R&L Commercial in Rocky Hill, told me.

Sheridan said there is space to park 300 cars on the site, with two levels of underground parking. The roughly, 193,000-square-foot building has large, 40,000-square-foot floor sizes and room, if needed for an addition. The building occupies an entire city block between Trumbull and Pleasant street and has a back-up generator.

A rendering of how 150 Windsor St., Hartford could be renovated for UConn. Rendering courtesy of Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C., Hartford.

A rendering of how 150 Windsor St., Hartford could be renovated for UConn. Rendering courtesy of Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C., Hartford.

The appearance of building, now windowless except for a row on the top floor, would be completely altered if chosen by UConn, Sheridan told me. Hartford-based Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C. has completed renderings for the makeover.

The building’s owner, Irving Bork, and a group of investors have proposed leasing the building to UConn but that could change, Sheridan said. Sheridan declined to identify the investors and said there are no firm estimates on how much the makeover would cost.

The work would likely take about 18 months to complete, Sheridan told me.

The building was constructed in 1971 and has been the site for a long line of bank data processing operations. It has been vacant for nearly five years, since Bank of America moved out.

The proposal is the latest to emerge, joining ones for One Talcott Plaza on Main Street; the Front Street development near the convention center;  the former Broadcast House property on Constitution Plaza; and a city-owned parcel just north of the central business district.

How the UConn campus could be designed at 150 Windsor St., Hartford. Rendering courtesy of Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C., Hartford.

How the UConn campus could be designed at 150 Windsor St., Hartford. Rendering courtesy of Amenta/Emma Architects, P.C., Hartford.

After UConn announced that it would relocate its Greater Hartford campus in West Hartford to downtown Hartford late last year, it approved spending $243,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center on Constitution Plaza. But in late January, UConn decided to widen its search seeking proposals.

UConn has not commented on any sites it has considered, and has declined to release the study on the education center. Today, spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz declined comment on the 150 Windsor St. proposal.

A UConn committee reviewing the proposals is expected to meet Wednesday and establish a timeline for a decision.

Read more here about the proposals and see a map of their locations.

UConn said it would be less expensive to move to downtown Hartford than renovate its aging West Hartford campus. UConn also said it wanted to participate in the revitalization of the city.

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40 thoughts on “Hartford’s Windsor Street Building Proposed for UConn Campus Relocation

  1. Thank God for a Voice of Reason

    I guess this site would fit in perfectly with the whole suburban Hartford concept of driving in and out of Hartford ASAP with zero walking around and little to no help to the downtown. Why bother leaving West Hartford if you’re going to choose this place???

    1. bs

      who is going to take responsibiliy when the new students start getting raped/mugged/murdered? That building is built like a “fortress” for a reason and when the bank(s) were there all the later shift workers parked in the underground garage or had security escorts from bus stops due to the unsafe neighborhood the building is in.

  2. HarryH

    Can I propose my house for UCONN’s campus. It has neither the correct location or size but I didn’t want every other property in the greater Hartford region to get proposed before me.

    Anyone want to bet that this move will cost money and not save any in the long run.

  3. Rich J

    The “revitalization” of Hartford has been going on since the first Federal loan to the city around 1955. How much more money is going to be wasted for this hopeless “revitalization”? UConn needs to stay in West Hartford.

    Too, how would stripping down the old Travelers Data Center to bare steel be cheaper than upgrading the existing West Hartford campus?

  4. Jim F

    Rich J – That is not the Travelers Data Center but the Old CBT/Shawmut/Fleet Data Center, that being said, it is still not the right place. If the goal is give UConn and downtown presence, and help provide some life to downtown Hartford, it needs to be a place close to things and places that students would want to take advantage of. It can’t be on the otherside of 84. GFOX, Hartford Times, Constitution Plaza are all better solutions.

    1. J M

      I agree with Jim F. Amenta/Emma deserves kudos for their excellent renderings, but as in the case of the 1214 Main Street proposal, a nice building in a mediocre location will fall short of the incredible potential of a downtown location. The best sites proposed so far in this regard are those in the Front Street area and at the intersection of Main and Talcott streets.

      I wonder if one of the 13 proposals is for the stretch just west of the High School, Inc. magnet building on Asylum Street. The site is currently used as a parking lot. There would be enough space there for flexibility in terms of building design and parking, and it would still be in downtown proper, just across from the Capitol Center building slated for conversion into apartments. Plus, there would be the option of an adaptive reuse of the five-story hotel building that adjoins the magnet school. Similar lots on Allyn Street (near Agave and the churches) would also be worth exploring.

  5. sue

    If I remember correctly this was once the Travelers data center, but now just another empty building in a dying decaying city that continues to believe in the “RATS that have destroyed this city along with so many others.

  6. Ed

    Not that it matters but it was originally Hartford National Bank’s data center. Travelers data center was the one story red brick building next door

  7. Joseph

    Sure. Just give the thugs, two to three blocks away on Albany Avenue, access to UConn students.

  8. Patrick

    This and the state’s parcel next to this one can’t compete with either the Front Street or Constitution Plaza. I doubt UCONN is considering this a serious contender.

  9. Fred

    I can imagine the “backroom” negotiations occuring between UCONN, the Mayor’s office and developers. One has to wonder, what would be the students take on this subject.

  10. sue

    Yes Joe I’ll get back on my meds but you can’t hide the truth about Hartford. It is a dying decaying city that has zero going for it. And the state as a whole is not far behind. You see Joe, the producers are slowly moving out of CT and leaving behind what? As a UTC executive once said “Anywhere but CT”. DANNY BOY and the ‘RATS will eventually run out of producers to tax and there will be nothing left but takers – those who vote for the ‘RATS.

    1. Joseph

      Sue, I agree with you that continually raising taxes on individuals and businesses is not the right way to go. The new mayor has made significant progress in keeping the mill rate steady and spending in line. His efforts build on the many things Hartford has going for it, including the largest concentration of occupied office space in the metro area, several dozen excellent restaurants, world class theater and arts organizations, and (in downtown) a growing residential population. Promoting a lively city center will help to attract the young, educated workers for which all states and regions compete, benefitting the entire metro area. An emphasis on vibrant, walkable environments, in combination with the kinds of tax reform you support, will help put our state on a better track moving forward.

      1. bs

        The “the young, educated workers for which all states and regions compete” are mostly fleeing to southern and midwest states that have a stable economy, low cost of living and a great deal more to offer than CT.

        CT has succeeded in gutting it’s economy to the point where only high end and low end jobs remain – nothing in between – which is not a stable or sustainable situation.

        1. Joseph

          Wait until those workers want to raise children and realize that the education system in the South is pathetic relative to the system we have in CT. You get what you pay for, and the result in the South is unfortunate.

          1. Rising Star

            Great response Joseph…I don’t believe there is anywhere in the South that can tout the efforts and investments that CT is putting into education.

            That said, the former BOA site is the wrong place for UConn downtown Hartford. The Front Street and Constitution Plaza area would be more in line with a vision and the culture of the University and where it wants to go.

          2. bs

            You have personal experience with the supposed pathetic education system in southern and midwest states? I think you are letting your prejudices take the place of actual knowledge. Beyond your prejudice, part of what you miss is the much higher percentage of private schools making the public ones less important. I can also tell you that as someone who was in the CT education system both public and private, it is not all you believe it to be.

          3. Joseph

            My personal experience is from college, when, from a student population drawn from all 50 states and several dozen foreign countries, the only student I knew who had to withdraw due to an inadequate level of preparation for college-level work was from West Virginia.

            But that’s anecdotal. Broad-based evidence is more persuasive. For example, in the percentage of public students scoring at proficient or better on the eighth grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Northeastern states outperform (CT is #5, while Massachusetts and Vermont take the #1 and #2 positions, respectively). The highest-scoring southern state is Virginia at #16, and southern/western states dominate the bottom half, from Arizona (#42) to Mississippi (#49). Since the vast majority of students attend public schools, measuring the quality of public school education is the most sensible approach.

            The benefits and draw of better education systems plays out in residents’ educational attainment. CT and its neighbors have among the highest proportions of adults with 4-year college degrees and with graduate degrees, while the usual suspects (Nevada, Louisiana and Alabama) populate the lower ends of the attainment lists. It would appear that states like Connecticut are producing and/or drawing the best-educated people in the country, contradicting the notion that young talent is heading south and west in appreciable numbers.

          4. bs

            “It would appear that states like Connecticut are producing and/or drawing the best-educated people in the country, contradicting the notion that young talent is heading south and west in appreciable numbers”

            Producing a population with a lot of degrees (in what areas is another question) is one thing, producing a stable economy that can employ that population and more importantly provide a diverse array of employment for the rest of the population is quite another.

            An economy that has low end service jobs and high end “knowledge economy” jobs with virtually nothing in between is not in any way stable or sustainable. There has to be a route forward out of poverty level service jobs, and there has to be a route downward as well to catch those in the high end who may loose that employment for whatever reason.

    2. Joseph

      The southern states have done a pretty good job of attracting low-skill, middle-wage manufacturing jobs, but the race to the bottom in which they are engaging is one they’re bound to lose to lower-cost and more efficient countries. In today’s global economy, high skill levels of the kind produced in CT are the surest and most sustainable path to decent wages.

      1. bs

        That’s a nice theory, but it doesn’t hold water. Those “knowledge economy” jobs are just as vulnerable to foreign competition as low to mid level jobs if not more so. To thing that somehow your lofty CT degree puts you ahead of those with similar degrees in low wage countries is absurd and probably a bit racist. Your high end job can be shipped overseas in a heartbeat to someone who has a higher level degree and is willing to work for a fraction of your pay.

        1. Joseph

          A higher level of education puts one at an advantage relative to workers anywhere, whether in another country or the neighboring state. That was my only point, and to the extent that educational systems in some parts of the country fall short, they will lose jobs both to other countries and other regions.

          1. bs

            Perhaps, but a good educational system does not in any way guarantee you a stable economy or even population.

            If you have a good educational system and a failed economy you will find yourself in the position of educating your competition as students come in get degrees and then get the heck out to areas that actually have jobs for them.

            We already see this in the US overall where our universities are populated with foreign students, most of whom will leave the US after they get their degrees and go back to their home countries to compete with the US at the lower wages of their home countries.

          2. bs

            I will further note that when the labor market is saturated with qualified workers, that degree is of no advantage. If there are 1,000 applicants all with the same qualifications for the same job, only the one who will accept the lowest pay will get the job and the others are left looking.

          3. Joseph

            Education is no guarantee, but investment in education (as the US carried out more extensively in the middle part of the last century) lays the groundwork for future growth, including the creation of jobs that would not have existed but for the original investment. It is true that even the highly educated are in a competitive job market. That is an important product of globalization and technological change, among other trends, but neglect of educational systems is surely not the best way to proceed in that environment.

  11. benjamin foley

    Wrong site. Don’t pretend this will do anything for Hartford if you put it north of 84. It has to be in the core to have any impact. Otherwise they will drive in and drive out (yes the site will have great access from a traffic engineering perspective). This is not a walk from your apartment location. It is a depressing location. Look at Renssalear dying on a vine right next door. Look at the CCC just south of 84 on Main, it is on the fringe – no impact. Put these students in the core where they will have the greatest impact to the economy. This location does not encourage students to live/work/play downtown. Which by the way, is how that rennaissance starts. State – don’t waste our money like you did on the convention center. The revitalization will start when educated people start living downtown.

  12. Ralph

    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.

  13. benjamin foley

    Ralph,
    You live a half a mile from your job, of course you dont want the campus to move. “Students east of Hartford often find the Storrs campus more convenient.” What a suprise – they have to drive through Hartford into the suburbs of West Hartford to get to school. If they lived where they went to school (downtown) they wouldn’t have to worry about driving or traffic for that matter. I have worked downtown for 18 years. In all that time I have yet to get stabbed, mugged, or car jacked. Am i biased about giving Hartford a chance, you darn right I am. In the end, I’m sure West Hartford will survive w/out a Uconn campus.

  14. Eileen

    This move of the UCONN branch to downtown Hartford is pure foolishness. From the traffic issues, to the security issues to the parking issues, there is just no upside to it except for some downtown developer holding onto a worthless parcel and the money to be reaped from the sale of the WH parcel to some other developer in order to cluster a bunch of McMansions on 1/4 acre lots.

    Then there are the Hartford cheerleaders with their starry-eyed dreams of breathing life into the putrid, maggot-ridden corpse of a capitol city otherwise known as Hartford. SIGH! They will just never learn. Politicians and developers have been trying to bring the city back to life since the early 80′s – that is about 30 years of being on artificial life support. But, this time – this scheme will work! All we need to do is to move the UCONN branch to Htfd, we didn’t need to build Front Street, or the Convention Center or the Museum or the Civic Center – no – all we needed was to move UCONN.

    I just can’t wait for the next bright idea.

    1. Joseph

      Whichever town you live in Eileen, its future is tightly bound to that of the city, so you should show just a little more interest in the center of the metro area in which you live. When recent college graduates are considering whether to live here or in any number of metro areas around the country, they will likely never have heard of your town, and their impression of metro Hartford will be based mostly on the city itself. If they decide to take a job in Des Moines instead because people there are more interested in contributing to that city’s social and economic life, it will be not only to Hartford’s detriment, but to your town’s as well, as you will lose a prospective resident and taxpayer.

      Fortunately, there are many people more engaged in building upon Hartford’s recent successes, which include an increasing downtown population, strong attendance at the Winterfest and First Thursday celebrations, a dropping crime rate, and the location or expansion of several new businesses downtown (e.g., CareCentrix and the Back Nine network). If you don’t care to participate in these developments, that’s fine. But to cast baseless aspersions on the city is unwarranted and a bit pathetic. Also, if you haven’t been downtown recently, you’ve missed out on the best culture the region has to offer. Try to get out of your little bubble for just a moment; the experience will be as beneficial to you as it could ever be to the city.

      1. Eileen

        I can’t think of a faster way to force a college graduate and potential CT tax-payer to move to a different state than to force them to go to school downtown.

        As far as my aspersions being unwarranted and baseless, I was born in Htfd and have lived and worked in and around the area my entire life. I have watched it sliding downhill for over 30 years due to mis-management and overly generous social programs.

        There are many people out there like me, because we are being realistic.

        1. Joseph

          I can’t think of a faster way to encourage an exodus out of CT than to continue supporting mindless sprawl. That’s more of a concern for recent college graduates like me, though. I assume from your “over 30 years” comment that you’re a member of an older generation, one less attuned to the social, economic and environmental costs of sprawl, but no worry: My generation will do its best to make up for the damage you’ve done. We certainly have our work cut out for us.

          1. Joseph

            Of course, there are people from every age demographic who keep open minds, and I wouldn’t want to lump them in with someone as shortsighted as Eileen. To the more sophisticated of the baby boomers and older, I apologize. It’s not only young professionals who have moved downtown over the past several years, but many recent empty nesters as well, and they contribute just as meaningfully to the city’s vibrancy.

  15. Bob the builder

    What a dreadful choice. There is a reason that location is empty and it will probably remain so until some semblance of a vibrant city spreads out North from Talcott Street. Maybe 30 years from now. Big maybe. South of I-84, North of the South Green, West of the river, East of Bushnell Park. In fact, the closer to Front Street, the better or that project will be another of many doomed to long term failure and unrealized expectations. That’s it folks.

  16. mc

    I expect that they will chose one of the worst options.Why? Cause this is Hartford, and the State of Connecticut. A bad location will be chosen, a couple people and some union will make a boat load of cash and in 20 years, the campus will be looking to move again. Maybe that awesome busway will have a stop on campus.

  17. Pamela

    I can relate to people’s skepticism about the likelihood of a good location ultimately being chosen. The whole process could use a little more transparency, and faculty, staff, and students should all be given the opportunity to have some input. Especially faculty and staff because they will be there long after this crop of students graduates.

    1. ralph

      Very good point. The students, in particular, do not want to have to travel downtown every day. In particular, many students go right from class to their jobs, which will be much more difficult if the move happens.

      Nobody even bothered to tell the faculty and staff of the West Hartford campus. I learned about it when I saw an article in the Courant.

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