Officials at the University of Connecticut are moving its branch in West Hartford to Hartford 42 years after it moved out to the suburbs.
The move is expected to create a ripple effect in the capital city and throughout Connecticut.
"Ensuring that UConn is fully contributing to the life of our capital city is one of my highest priorities," UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement Thursday. "Moving the Greater Hartford campus back to the city, where it began and belongs, will better enable the campus to fulfill its academic mission, provide a major boost for downtown Hartford and save the university millions in the process."
According to school officials, the campus needs nearly $25 million worth of repairs, including work to fix leaks and water damage on the campus. Over recent years, officials have spent $7 million to make "critical repairs" to its facilities.
However, the move to downtown Hartford is only expected to cost the university about $125,000 to complete.
City officials are also excited about the move by the university.
"Since I took office in 2010, I have actively and consistently engaged UConn to have a bigger footprint in the capital city," said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. "President Herbst has been a terrific partner and has always understood why this is important for the region and state. While we cannot comment on any details or specifics, the city of Hartford stands ready to welcome UConn with open arms and assist in as many ways as we can with a possible relocation."
The downtown location in Hartford has not been determined, however the site is expected to be chosen by the end of the year. Herbst said she feels the school needs to be part of downtown Hartford.
"The campus was originally intended to offer an urban education near the seat of state government, and there is no better place to accomplish that than in the heart of downtown," Herbst said in a statement. "This will be a win-win for UConn, our students and the City of Hartford."
There are 2,200 students who currently attend the West Hartford campus, with 60 employees working there full time. Some of those students feel the move is the right thing to do.
"It's like a whole melting pot, you get everything, and with that experience, living in a community where you see all those things," said UConn freshman Nelson Torres. "It could influence you for the better, exactly, for the studies that are given here."
Businesses are also excited about the move. According to the owner of Aladdin's pizza restaurant, he noticed a boost in business a few years ago when St. Joseph Pharmacy School moved downtown and feels UConn moving will have an even bigger impact.
"It's gonna be perfect for us," said Mohamad Aha, who owns Aladdin's pizza restaurant. "It's gonna bring a lot of people here to make more life in Hartford downtown than before."
UConn already has a business and law school in Hartford and a branch of the university was in the capital city from 1939 to 1970.
As for the West Hartford campus, St. Joseph's College and the University of Hartford have already expressed interest in the property.
The move means Hartford will have a university offering a four-year degree complementing Capital Community College and the St. Joseph's School. It will also increase the number of students walking the streets of the capital city.
"Especially with our age group, things are gonna liven up a little bit," said UConn sophomore Tyler Yung.
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