UConn quitting West Hartford

Hartford (AP) - The University of Connecticut is leaving its West Hartford campus and moving to Hartford to be closer to state government, bring a major state institution to downtown Hartford and avoid millions in renovation costs.

UConn President Susan Herbst says the campus that was established in West Hartford in 1970 was intended to offer an urban education near government. The move could be completed in a year.

"Ensuring that UConn is fully contributing to the life of our capital city is one of my highest priorities," she 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."

The university says it would cost more than $18 million to repair and restore buildings that are in poor condition and more than $6 million to improve the information technology system and replace mechanical systems.

UConn has spent $7.2 million on repairs in the past four years.

Michael Freimuth, executive director of the Capital Region Development Authority, told The Hartford Courant that UConn's move could create new demand for housing downtown.

"It's a big to-do," he said. "Any city that can activate itself with a college student population offers opportunity for everyone else."

The move will add to higher education downtown such as Capital Community College, UConn and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate programs and the University of St. Joseph School of Pharmacy.

UConn said its West Hartford campus is in poor condition and is plagued by significant leaks and water damage in classrooms, offices and labs. UConn said it's not ready to identify possible Hartford sites that would house the new campus.

The university opened a campus in Hartford in 1939 and has moved to different sites around the city.

Its mission was to offer an urban education and ensure faculty and students could be close to the seat of state government and Hartford city government.

The suburban location in West Hartford and distance from state and city government "make it difficult for it to fully live up to its stated mission and best serve our students," UConn said in a statement.

The move would cost about $125,000, but UConn says it would save about $25 million in a few years.

It also intends to sell the 58-acre West Hartford campus, which includes five buildings.

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