UConn downtown locale unknown
Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 00:09
After reaching an impasse in August, UConn and city of Hartford officials have yet to reach an agreement on the location of the new Greater Hartford campus, according to UConn officials.
It was announced in June that the new Greater Hartford campus would occupy the old Hartford Times building on the corner of Front Street and Prospect Street. The announcement was met with disapproval from some city of Hartford officials, prompting UConn to reconsider its decision.
“The city continues to prefer a different site than we do, but we’re all on the same page about having a campus downtown,” said UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz. “Our core goals are all the same, it’s just a question of they see a particular site as a better fit for what they want. We see this site as a site that would fit everybody’s needs.”
Reitz said that UConn prefers the site, located just off I-91, primarily because of its accessibility to the downtown. She also said that students would have easy access to Hartford City Hall and the Connecticut State Capitol building.
The campus would be the home to students pursuing master’s degrees in public administration as well as the site of many classes for undergraduate students pursuing a public policy degree. Reitz said that the accessibility of the governmental infrastructure in Hartford could act as a beneficial supplement to the program.
“There’s just a lot of different opportunities for students right in that center area where we’re looking,” Reitz said. “It’s a vibrant part of downtown. … To have that student foot traffic around would help the city.”
Reitz also said that easy highway access makes the site appealing to the university.
Some city of Hartford officials have openly voiced disagreement about the site, preferring the university to build the Greater Hartford campus farther north in the downtown, closer to I-84. This disagreement, however, has not been allowed to get out of hand, according to Reitz.
“We’ve always said, ‘Reasonable people can disagree reasonably,’ and I think that’s what has happened here,” Reitz said. “It’s never been an outright fight.”
One thing is clear – UConn is moving forward at the Front Street site, even without the issue being fully resolved. Reitz said paperwork is being filled out to pursue the development of the land, adding that the university is working “actively” with the people who control the site’s development.
Reitz also said the university has not ruled out development in the northern section of downtown Hartford, hinting that a satellite of the Greater Hartford campus could be opened there in the future as part of additional cooperation with the city of Hartford.
The city of Hartford said in August that it would stand with UConn’s final decision, even if the final result is the development of the Hartford Times site.
“While all of us understand and agree that the development of the downtown north area is critically important to the city, the former Hartford Times building remains UConn’s preferred location,” a joint press release issued in August by Hartford and UConn stated. “The city will support the results of UConn’s due diligence process on the Times Building site and will fully participate in the design of the final site.”
The release went on to state that a final site had still not been chosen, indicating that discussions will continue between UConn and the city of Hartford.
The city of Hartford communications director could not be reached for a more recent comment.