UConn Cooling To Campus Relocation At Constitution Plaza?

by Categorized: Downtown Hartford Date:

Downtown Hartford’s Constitution Plaza appeared to be the leading site for relocating the University of Connecticut’s West Hartford campus, after the university agreed to spend nearly $250,000 to study the former Travelers Education Center.

The University of Connecticut may be cooling to the idea of relocating its West Hartford campus to the former Travelers Education Center. Photo by Kenneth R. Gosselin/kgosselin@courant.com

But the buzz in downtown commercial real estate circles is that the university may be cooling to the 135,000-square-foot education center.

A UConn spokeswoman declined to comment this morning, but said more information may be available as soon as Thursday on the relocation.

In November, the university announced that it would move the West Hartford campus downtown within a year, but it didn’t name a location and said it was evaluating potential sites.

UConn has not named potential locations but hiring an architectural firm to study the education center put the location among the frontrunners.

Other locations mentioned were Connecticut River Plaza and One Talcott Plaza, both in the immediate area of Constitution Plaza. It is widely known, however, that the state is close to buying the Connecticut River Plaza to consolidate office workers.  One Talcott Plaza, at 103,000 square feet, is far smaller than Connecticut River Plaza or the former education center.

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25 thoughts on “UConn Cooling To Campus Relocation At Constitution Plaza?

  1. sue

    Guess more money from someone else must be going DANNY BOY’S way. What else can explain this sudden change of heart

  2. Ralph

    I work at the West Hartford Campus and I don’t think that I have seen more than five people who think that the move is a good idea. The campus needs work but it is in a convenient location in a good neighborhood. It is easy to get to and has plenty of close-by and safe parking.

    There seems to be an obsession with getting warm bodies to go downtown, even if they only come for classes and leave as soon as classes are over. Few if any students will take advantage of the downtown restaurants because they simply can’t afford them. It is inevitable that somebody will be robbed (or worse) going from classes to the parking lot at night.

    Leave the campus where it is and put the money in necessary repairs. This move will only serve to make the campus more inconvenient and inhospitable.

    1. Venetta MacBeth

      I agree, I am a graduating student at the West Hartford campus and the location is great for students, plenty of parking and a safe neighborhood. What are they thinking?? Leave the campus where it is.

    2. Jose

      I totally agree with the comment from Ralph. Leave the campus alone!!! West Hartford is a beautiful college setting for our commuting students they are very happy and content there. Do repairs and stay in a comfortable area for our kids. Hartford is not all that!

  3. J.

    Ralph’s assumption that students and staff will be using a parking lot speaks volumes about his ignorance of how downtown works. Constitution Plaza has its own dedicated and secure garage. Not only will members of the UConn community avoid having to shovel snow off their cars after storms, they will stand less of a chance of being robbed than at their current location.

    To his point that students won’t be able to afford downtown restaurants, that is true of the five star options, but there are also a number of more affordable delis and eateries. And for those members of the student body and staff who are more culturally inclined and intellectually curious, downtown hosts the country’s oldest public art museum, one of the nation’s top regional theaters, an Amistad trial site (the Old State House), and a Cesar Pelli-designed science center. If the UConn student body actually thinks a bedroom community is more appealing than what’s available downtown, their school is not quite ready for primetime. But I imagine many students, faculty and staff are more ambitious and more receptive to the idea of a new campus.

    1. Jim

      It’s hard enough finding parking in the Constitution Plaza Garage, I park there now. Unless the students can shell out the $200/month to park there, they’ll be shovelling in one of the open, cheaper lots.

      1. J.

        It’s unfortunate that the Greater Hartford campus currently functions as a commuter school. Making it a residential campus would be ideal (it’s because dorms are available that students at most top 4-year schools don’t need cars). It would be too much to ask UConn to produce on-campus housing right away, but that should be among its long-term goals. Some students could look into downtown apartments (which I will admit are generally beyond the reach of college students). Others, especially the many who live nearby, could look into CT Transit. The bus system in and around Hartford is actually quite extensive, comfortable and affordable.

  4. mike

    Many are also interested in what this move means. The people I know that attend or work at UConn West Hartford are excited about this. I think you need to broaden your survey base.

    Also, housing should… SHOULD be provided by the soon to start rennovations apartments on the plaza. I read that those apartments might cost as low as 550/month for a studio. and Financial aid should cover that.

    Alsothe Morton Street Garage is right next to the plaza with a bajillion spaces, but that plan is mute. they said in the article that they have an asbestos problem at 200 Constitution plaza.

    This is a great thing for the City, it is a great thing for the State, It is and I think its MOST IMPORTANT a great thing for the students to attend an urban campus, but I suspect some staff will be negatively impacted and therefore might try and get jobs at CCSU.

  5. hthusky74

    This project was idiotic from the start. The West Hartford location is excellent. Not too far from I-84 and close to Albany and Farmington Aves. Some of the buildings there are decrepit, but far better to rebuild those than move downtown. I believe the water table is high at that location which is why some of the buildings have been settling over the years. Caution would be needed before building there. As far as being accessible, I’ve never heard anyone say it wasn’t accessible. Let people take CT Transit to West Hartford rather than downtown. All we need is more traffic downtoen during rush hour!

  6. maryanne

    I think the point of the West Hartford campus is that it IS a commuter school. Its purpose is to accommodate those students who can’t or don’t want to attend a residential university. Overlooking the demographics of the actual student body to take on the expense of building dorms, especially in this time of cutbacks in higher education funding, would be foolish.

  7. Eileen

    This idea was foolish from the start. The West Hartford campus is convenient and has lots of room. Why would you want to add to the traffic congestion going downtown? It makes no sense.

    What is the real benefit of an urban campus? There really is none. For culture, you have the Antheneum, a couple playhouses, the Bushnell and the Science Center. Big whoop, it not like you are talking NY here. Also, all those options are about 15 minutes away from the WH campus.

    I do hope that UCONN smartens up and decides to stay in WH. That quarter of a million they spent on consultants could have been put to good use on the campus.

    1. J.

      Having spent time in traffic in Hartford and in its suburbs, I can tell you it’s generally worse in the latter. Route 4 in Farmington is a case in point.

      With small-minded attitudes such as those revealed in many of the comments above, the Hartford area (not just the city) but will forever consign itself to third-class status. Prospective students, and the young talent coming out of universities, will never be interested in living and working in suburbs. If we fail to create the kind of dense, walkable atmosphere to which smart, educated people are attracted, the entire metro area will suffer.

      Hartford may never be a metropolis the size of New York, but something along the lines of Providence is well within our grasp. The single most important difference between these two smaller cities is that Providence has 4-year educational institutions downtown. The students, faculty and staff both help to create and benefit from that environment, and it is a major reason why Providence is on the radar screens of many recent college graduates. Even many Boston students and residents take weekend trips there. The same could not currently be said of any town or city in the Hartford area.

      We have the opportunity to take an important step toward creating an atmosphere more like that of Providence, as well as one more like the vibrant Hartford of 60 years ago when, lo and behold, the UConn Greater Hartford campus was located in the city.

  8. Leah H

    There is no way you can compare downtown Hartford to West Hartford and take the position that Hartford is safer or less expensive. No way,stop spending money and use what you have. If it’s not broken,don’t fix it!!!

    1. mike

      ummm maybe you missed it, but it IS broken, and the cost to fix it has caused the University to go back to its roots and serve the mission statement it has had from the begining.

      1. Phil

        $25 million, that’s MILLION dollars to fix up the WH campus. Compared to a few hundred thousand to move the school back to Hartford.

        To quote UCONN Presiden Susan Herbst “Moving the greater Hartford campus back to the city where it began and belongs will better enable the campus to fulfill its academic mission, provide a major boost for downtown Hartford and save the university millions in the process.”

        I understand you’re never going to get a 100% agreement from everyone but when you compare the successful move of UCONN Stamford to downtown Stamford in 1998 I’m not sure why the Hartford move is a bad idea.

  9. History Teacher

    For some perspective, read the following excerpt from a Courant article:

    “…the branch moved in 1962 to a new, barracks-like classroom building of 41,600 feet five miles north of downtown. In 1975 a 34,200-square-foot library was built, but further expansion on the 37-acre campus is prohibited by wetlands, lack of sewers, and by a resolution of the city’s legislative body designed to protect the residential character of the neighborhood.”

    This could easily be a description of the West Hartford campus. Actually, it’s from a 1994 article describing UConn Stamford’s campus just before it moved downtown. People would have made the same arguments about downtown Stamford’s traffic congestion, safety and parking back then, but with the benefit of hindsight, most people would describe the move as a success. As a recent Courant article pointed out, it took a few years for the positive effects of the move to be felt, but the result is a vibrant campus in the city’s center. 2013 is to Hartford what 1994 was to Stamford.

  10. Eileen

    YAWN! Blah blah – small minded people live in the clean, green, safe burbs – blah blah – smart, educated people live in cramped condos in the dirty, dangerous city – suuuure – whatever works for you.

    It is the last refuge of those without a valid argument to start with the insults.

    Hartford and Providence were in similar conditions in the mid-80’s. The single most important difference is that Providence had a strong Republican mayor that pushed through many of the improvements that are credited with the renaissance of Providence. Unfortunately Mayor Cianci was also convicted of corruption and forced out of office – OOOPS. Maybe if Rowland had been able to hang on a little longer, Hartford would be in better condition.

    Face it, in the past 30-35 years millions of dollars have been pumped into the rejuvenation of Hartford and the patient is still on life support.

    1. John

      The money directed toward Hartford has gone into projects geared toward entertainment, whereas Providence has benefitted from the long-term investment, student engagement, and educational cachet that universities uniquely bring.

      Government leaders do play an important role, and we should take advantage of having in Mayor Segarra a successful steward who has already generated renewed interest in the city from residents, corporate tenants, and suburbanites alike.

    2. Rob

      Do you hear yourself? The region does not sustain successful prosperous suburbs with a dying city. Its like heart disease. The campus should never have been moved to West Hartford. The move will benefit the region and the university, will save money, and the West Hartford site has already attracted interest from others like St. Josephs. This will end up being a win-win for everyone. Greater Hartford has to stop with the attitude that the city and the suburbs are fighting with each other. Lets join together and improve the entire region.

  11. joseph

    I hope the workers at UConn DO go to
    CCSU, I’ll take a job in Downtown any time. Constitution plaza is not a place to get robbed in, neither is downtown. There are hardly any robberies in downtown, and when there are it’s near the bars, which none near downtown except for a few near Main Street that part is lit up like a Christmas tree. a bedroom community and that campus looks boring. There are alot of places to eat that are affordable, and the Atheneum, Science Center, and Library provide great resources, where your small library might not. Downtown is very well patrolled as well. I live in the West End and it’s patroled, and there’s little crime going on there. All the crime you hear about on the outskirts of downtown. In most neighborhoods is where the crime is going on.

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