A spacious, centrally located spot just steps from UConn’s new downtown Hartford campus has been selected as the site of the new Barnes & Noble, which will serve as both the University’s bookstore and a resource for the city’s many thousand residents and visitors.
UConn this week announced that the Barnes & Noble store will open later this year in about 11,150 square feet on the first floor of the Front Street Lofts building, which is just across the street from the main entrance to the new UConn downtown campus.
The bookstore will also include a 2,200-square-foot Starbucks café, a large selection of trade and text books, an extensive variety of Husky-branded clothing and merchandise, a “grab-and-go” style food market, seating inside and outside, and many other features to serve patrons.
Those customers will include the approximately 2,300 students and hundreds of UConn employees who will be based at the UConn Hartford campus in the Front Street District. The campus and bookstore are both on track to open in late summer in preparation for the fall 2017 academic semester.
UConn President Susan Herbst said the store’s central location, expanded night and weekend hours, wide variety of offerings, and other features will be a boon both to UConn and the City of Hartford, where the Front Street District has become an entertainment and dining destination.
“When we made the decision to return this campus to its Hartford roots, we knew we wanted a dynamic neighborhood campus open to all of the cultural and civic amenities a city can provide,” Herbst said.
“A bookstore is an essential part of that vision, serving not just as a hub for the campus community, but also drawing in readers, writers, and learners from the city itself,” she added. “Barnes & Noble at UConn will meet that need, providing the casual intellectual environment so essential to college students, while also serving as both a general-interest bookstore and a provider of textbooks to our campus.”
UConn plans to lease the Front Street bookstore space from the facility’s owner, which is an affiliate of the HB Nitkin Group, the developer of the main building of the new $140 million UConn Hartford campus. Barnes & Noble will then operate it under contract for UConn.
That rent, which is about $256,000 annually, will be entirely covered by revenue that Barnes & Noble pays to UConn under its existing master agreement to serve as UConn’s bookstore operator at all University locations.
That means no public money, tuition, or student fees will be used toward the costs of the downtown Hartford bookstore’s lease, facility improvements to prepare for its opening, or its ongoing operations.
In fact, Barnes & Noble returns millions of dollars to UConn annually under the terms in its master agreement, so UConn’s bookstore operations are profitable and also help bolster financial aid and student services throughout the University.
“Barnes & Noble is proud to be partnering with UConn at such a critical and exciting time,” said Neil LeBeau, regional manager for Barnes & Noble College.
“The opening of the UConn Hartford campus this fall will be transformational for UConn and for the City of Hartford,” he said. “It’s the strong partnership and support between UConn and Barnes & Noble that made bringing a bookstore to downtown Hartford a reality. We can’t wait to start serving the UConn Hartford community and the residents and visitors to the Greater Hartford area.”
City and state officials, including Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, are hailing the bookstore and the UConn Hartford downtown campus as assets that are, in Malloy’s words, “adding to the vitality of the Front Street neighborhood and strengthening the community.”
“Higher education is key to adding new life and economic growth within our cities,” Malloy said this week. “The presence of UConn in downtown Hartford will contribute in the long term toward all of its surrounding institutions and economy, and we look forward to its opening.”
Added Lt.-Gov. Nancy Wyman, “ Thanks to investment from all levels of government and the private sector, Connecticut’s capital city is now a destination for residents, business, and visitors. Having UConn, Barnes & Noble – and UConn Husky gear – downtown is a wonderful show of support for our flagship school, and demonstrates the power of partnerships in making our cities more vibrant places to live, work, and play.”
The Barnes & Noble location will be the first bookstore in downtown Hartford in more than a decade, since the last one closed in the former Civic Center Mall.