West Hartford to Get First Chance to Purchase Campus Property

Students walk outdoors near banners on the Hartford campus. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Students walk outdoors near banners on the Hartford campus. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

SHARELINES

UPDATE: Sale of UConn’s West Hartford Campus – Extension of Time and Alternate Proposal

Students walk outdoors at the current Hartford campus. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Students walk outdoors at the current Hartford campus. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

UConn plans to reach out to West Hartford town leaders to offer the municipality the first chance to buy the land and buildings within its borders that currently comprise UConn’s Greater Hartford campus.

The UConn Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to authorize UConn officials to start the process of selling the 58-acre property, which has served as the Greater Hartford campus since 1970. It previously was in Hartford, and will return there when the University opens a new downtown campus anchored by the former Hartford Times building in fall 2017.

Per state statutes, West Hartford is entitled to receive first notice of the University’s intent to sell the land and the town has the first opportunity to buy it. The trustees’ vote Wednesday directs UConn officials to reach out to the town and, if the municipality is interested, to negotiate a purchase agreement.

UConn believes it is in the best interest of the University – and of West Hartford – for the town to acquire the property so that the town directly determines the future use of the property, UConn officials told trustees Wednesday.

“We believe the town of West Hartford knows what’s best for its community and its residents,” said Scott Jordan, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer. “The town is the most logical entity to own the site and determine its future.”

If the town declines or fails to respond within 45 days, the University would sell to another buyer. Either way, the University would consider transferring ownership before the fall of 2017, provided that UConn can still use portions it requires there until the relocation to Hartford is complete.

The price would be negotiated, and any final agreement between the University and town would require trustees’ approval before it is effective.

The 58-acre West Hartford campus is one of the last large parcels in that town available for development or redevelopment. It is located in a residential neighborhood, and area residents historically have enjoyed access to what is essentially an open campus.

The campus includes five buildings: the Harleigh B. Trecker Library, the Information Technology Center building, the School of Social Work building, the Undergraduate building, and a Facilities Operations building. The campus includes surface parking for 1,050 vehicles and Little League fields, which the University leases to the Town.

The campus currently serves approximately 1,400 UConn undergraduates and 1,520 full- and part-time graduate students. In addition, there are approximately 410 faculty and other affiliated or non-affiliated staff utilizing the facilities.

The campus is located in a zone in which the permitted uses include residential, school, and churches, but not commercial development. Even if another entity buys the land from UConn, the town would have control over its use through the zoning process.

Money that UConn receives from selling the land will be applied to capital projects, and cannot be used for paying operating expenses or replacing funds lost because of rescissions to the state block grant.