UConn's Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a $115 million development plan to relocate its satellite campus in West Hartford to downtown Hartford.
The plan calls for renovating the old Hartford Times building on Prospect Street, including renovations to its historic front and building a five-story addition, an atrium, and a two-story connection that loops around from Prospect to Arch Street.
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That part of the project will cost about $100 million, said Laura Cruickshank, UConn's master planner and chief architect.
The school also plans to spend up to $4 million the purchase another building a block away on Prospect that would house additional offices and classrooms. The rest of the money would be used for "soft costs" such as furniture, equipment and architecture fees, she said.
UConn also plans to have retail shops at street level on the campus.
The school is planning to share some space and resources with the nearby Hartford Public Library. It's also working with the Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut Science Center and Connecticut Convention Center to integrate the campus into the neighborhood.
The vision, Cruickshank said, is to create a college-town atmosphere along Connecticut's riverfront.
"As an urban architect, you want to see people on the street who are doing things and engaged in activity," she said. "It makes the whole city more lively, more fun to visit."
The school says about 2,300 students and 250 faculty will work in Hartford. UConn has a deal with nearby parking garages, and is in talks with Connecticut Transit about establishing a pass that would allow students to ride the bus for free during the school year.
Developers are to begin bidding on the project this summer. Construction is scheduled to be completed by July, 2017 with classes starting that fall.
The move marks a return to Hartford for the university, which established a regional campus in the city in 1939 before moving to West Hartford in 1970.
UConn plans to sell the West Hartford campus.