Move over, Store 24. The long-awaited Storrs Center has arrived.
Even as construction proceeds on the next phase of the mixed-use development project, there is already plenty to explore in the new and expanding downtown area adjacent to the University’s Storrs campus.
Nearly a dozen different businesses are now open at the corner of Dog Lane and Storrs Road:
- Bank of America
- Body Language Tattoo & Piercing
- Husky Pizza
- Insomnia Cookies
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
- Select Physical Therapy
- Skora’s Barber Styling Shop
- Storrs Automotive
- Sweet Emotions Candy Shop
- Travel Planners
“It makes Storrs feel like a little town of its own,” Amanda Baez ’12 (CANR) says of the burgeoning downtown center. “So far, my favorite thing about it is froyo. It’s perfect for a late-night snack, especially for stressful times like midterm week.”
“I think folks are eager to come in and see the place and want to have the feeling of shopping. There wasn’t ever really a place to go shopping [in town],” says Storrs Center business owner Barry Schreier. “It’s mission accomplished already.”
Schreier, formerly director of the University’s Mental Health and Counseling Services, now owns Sweet Emotions Candy Shop, which opened in September. Boasting “the largest candy counter in Connecticut,” Sweet Emotions offers more than 400 different types of candy, as well as a candy delivery service, candy catering, and children’s art activities featuring materials that are entirely edible.
Open for the first time today is Moe’s Southwest Grill. Also scheduled to open within the next few weeks are 7-Eleven, Mooyah Burgers and Fries, as well as Dog Lane Café, which will be run by the same owners as The Vanilla Bean Café in Pomfret and 85 Main Street in Putnam. Geno’s Grille – a restaurant that will be operated by UConn Huskies women’s basketball head coach Geno Auriemma and his partners – will likely follow in the spring semester of 2013.
In addition to the business component of Storrs Center, all 127 residential units at The Oaks on the Square, also located at Dog Lane, have been filled.
Another 195 apartments – studios as well as 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units – are currently under construction at nearby 1 Royce Circle, a phase slated for completion in August 2013. Several leases have already been signed for these units as well. Royce Circle will also house a branch of the UConn Co-op Bookstore, including its own café, plus UConn Health Center medical offices and further commercial space.
“We’re very pleased with how fast the leases have been signed and the apartments are renting, and if it keeps on at this pace, it will be maybe another four or five years before complete buildout [of the Storrs Center],” says Mayor Betsy Paterson of Mansfield.
From the outset, the Storrs Center project was designed to model mixed-use college downtowns similar to such communities as Princeton, N.J., Northampton, Mass., or Ann Arbor, Mich., says Cynthia van Zelm, executive director at the Mansfield Downtown Partnership Inc., the independent, nonprofit organization that worked to develop the master plan for the new Storrs Center.
“We always had three core things involved: housing, commercial [space], and open space,” she says. “That was the vision when the master plan was done. I think we’ve succeeded in bringing all of that together.”
‘A True Main Street’
“So many individuals have come together to make this Storrs Center project a reality,” says President Susan Herbst. “They have shaped a true ‘Main Street’ with shopping, restaurants, and residential space that is bringing a whole new dimension of vitality to our community.”
Future phases of the Storrs Center project include construction of a town green, a grocery store, a residential neighborhood, and a transportation center that will include such features as bicycle lockers and charging stations for electric cars.
“Not only is this a wonderful project, but the things that have evolved as a result of [the town] partnering with the University and the business community are going to have a lasting effect on this area,” says Mayor Paterson. “To me, that’s something that I did not foresee when I first started on this venture many moons ago.”
Visitors to the Storrs Center can take advantage of free parking for the first two hours at the on-site surface lots and in the 660-space Storrs Center Parking Garage on Dog Lane; parking in the garage is $1 per hour for each additional hour.
Monthly passes for the parking garage are also available for purchase. The cost ranges from $30 to $60 per month. For more information, email StorrsCenterInfo@mansfieldct.org.