Officials from the Urban Land Institute, the Washington D.C.-based research group that advocates for smart growth in communities, is hosting a walking tour of the $200 million mixed-used development in on Thursday afternoon.
In an invitation the land institute issued recently, it called “one of the most ambitious public/private initiatives in the history of Connecticut, a process we are likely to see more of in the future.” The email went on to say that at the core of Storrs Center is the “ - an independent, non-profit organization comprised of the Town of Mansfield, the , and individual business members and residents - and master developer , LLC. Over the past ten years and hundreds of meetings, they have worked in concert to guide the process from master planning to construction. Interest has been exceptional as indicated by the leasing activity for both residential and retail space.”
The Boston office of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit organization, is organizing the tour.
The invitation-only event (it is not open to the general public) is intended to provide institute members with a preview of the first phase of Storrs Center, which will include 125 apartments and 25,000 square feet of shops and restaurants. A grand opening will take place in about two months. Alexandria Roe, director of planning at UConn, along with, of Leyland Alliance and Cynthia van Zelm of the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, will be on hand to provide a brief introduction and to answer questions during a reception that follows the tour.
Storrs Center broke ground in May of 2011. When completed, the complex will include a blend of restaurants, shops, offices, homes, walkways and green spaces and, according to the institute, “will create a sense of place and a thriving community of several small neighborhoods”
Though serious planning on the current plan began about 10 years ago, the roots of the concept reach back into the 1970s and reflect long-standing concerns and ideas UConn and Mansfield officials had about creating a more viable town center for the community and the university, said , Mansfield’s town manager.
“We are home to Connecticut’s flagship university, which doesn’t have a downtown,” Hart said. “This project helps to promote intelligent land use principles. We’re promoting smart growth.”
In conjunction with the project the federal government has provided some $25 million in funding for Storrs Center. Also, Mansfield is spending another $3 to $3.5 million just on street improvements in the area.
On Monday the Town Council formally accepted a $500,000 state grant that will help offset some of those costs.