Design approved for Storrs Center Town Square
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 00:09
Former UConn landscape architecture professor Rudy Favretti approved the design for the Storrs Center Town Square last night at a town public hearing.
Construction is set to begin in about a month with an unknown finish date, said Executive Director of Mansfield Downtown Partnership Cynthia van Zelm.
Favretti said he had several things he thought the square needed before he saw the design, including being able to accommodate the square’s natural crisscross walking path, providing enough space for big events, and day to day events, creating a human element so the building would not overpower it, and giving the square a seasonal interest.
“This conceptual plan addresses all of those items exceedingly well,” Favretti said.
The square will be located in Storrs Center, adjacent to the UConn campus, and in the space between Subway and the lot currently occupied by steel beams. Kent + Frost, from Mystic, is the hired landscape design firm.
“The programming has been driving this design from the very beginning,” said Brian Kent, representative from Kent + Frost.
He said the space would be usable for farmers markets, sidewalk sales, art shows, and concerts.
Their design for the .36 acre space has a 55-foot diameter circular green in the center with a pavement surrounding it, a performance stage in one corner, and a shade structure in the opposite corner. There will also be bike racks and moveable tables and chairs, said Kent.
“This one was the one that everybody thought was the best example because it’s not all green, but mostly,” said van Zelm.
In the planning stage UConn requested that the square could be used for freshman orientation activities. The Co-op downtown storefront will also be able to use one side of the sidewalk for book sales.
Favretti’s recommendations for the plan included not using stone dust. He said the one time he was sued in his career was because he had used stone dust, which wore away and caused someone to sprain an ankle.
Frost’s response was that stone dust was chosen because of the $1.1 million budget, and as long as the stone dust is not in an area that could be susceptible to heavy water flow, it should not be problematic. It would cost $30-35,000 more to upgrade from the stone dust.
Chairman of Mansfield Downtown Partnership, Philip Lodewick, said that they would be raising more money for this project.
UConn is providing $250,000 for the Town Square, according to the Sept. 9 Town Square Design and Funding Plan.
The university has been talking with Mansfield about the growth of Storrs Center since the Municipal Development Plan was approved in the early 2000s.
“I like the initiative that UConn is taking to create a modern, urban type of setting in this area,” said 3rd-semester sophomore Melissa Adiran, who also said she would probably use the Town Square once it is complete.
In addition to the Town Square, the Storrs Center plan involves a supermarket, more shops and a residential condominium neighborhood.