The is hoping the news r project will help make the campus more attractive to existing and prospective students, as well as provide a more cohesive town center for its ever-growing student population.
That was the message Alexandria Roe, director of planning for UConn at the university’s main campus in Storrs, conveyed to participants of a more than hour-long tour conducted at the new development site this past week.
Speaking before about 30 members of the , an international group that advocates for smart growth, Roe said UConn’s student population has grown dramatically in recent years, from about 16,000 in 1990 to 28,000 today.
But one of the issues that has always faced that population is UConn’s isolation in a predominantly rural environment. There’s no urban center nearby to provide distractions for the mostly younger students, and not many shopping or entertainment options.
But the proposed, which will include a mix of retail, housing and offices, as well as open space, will change that, Roe said. Besides giving students a place to go and to gather, the new center will be integrated into the UConn campus through new walkways that will link the two.
“They all need something to do on the weekends,” Roe said about UConn students. “They need something to do on the weeknights. They need healthy options.”
Besides providing the sewer and water for the new development (UConn operates its own sewer and water facilities), the university also sold some of its land to the developer for the project and is moving its co-op store into the new retail center.
“That’s a big commitment on UConn’s part,” she said. “It’s an important project for us. The students are very excited about it.”
The $200 million Storrs Center development is currently in its first construction phase, which is expected to open in about two months. The project has been called the largest private/public partnership development in the state. The town, state and federal government have provided funding for the 45-acre project, along with a private developer.