Renovated downtown New London building prepares to welcome Connecticut College students
New London ― With just a week to spare before the return of students to Connecticut College, the finishing touches are being put on the downtown’s newest historic rehabilitation project.
On Thursday night, college and city officials gathered with a crowd of more than 100 people at 223 State St. to celebrate the opening of The Manwaring, a historic century-old commercial building now transformed into a 21-unit residential complex for students.
Connecticut College has a five-year lease with building owners High Tide Capital to house 60 students in the building and making it an extension of the school.
Mayor Michael Passero said the project satisfies the city’s economic goal of bringing more feet to the streets of downtown to help bolster downtown businesses. Passero, a Connecticut College graduate, called the college’s move into the downtown a “generational dream for the city.”
The project is also helping Connecticut College accommodate an unprecedented increase in the number of incoming college students.The college has reported that 660 students had made deposits to attend the school in the fall, an increase of 160 students from the annual average.
“I think of today’s celebration not just as a celebration of community but also as a beautiful launch to the the new academic year,” Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron said.
Renting an entire building helps solve the issue of having students randomly spread out across the region as they did when off-campus housing was permitted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rent for the units is incorporated into tuition fees and Connecticut College had planned to install its own key card and security surveillance system for the safety of the students.
“So many of those students are excited about the opportunity to learn more about what this city has to offer. Others have already developed their own connections to the city through their work with our wonderful Holleran Center for Community Action,” Bergeron said.
“We are excited to see these connections grow in the next five years,” she said. “ I know that student life in Manwaring will strengthen our connection in untold ways.
San Francisco-based High Tide Capital, which owns the building and several others in downtown, fast-tracked renovation of the three-story building when it entered a partnership with the college earlier this year. High Tide used Historic Renovation Tax credits to help finance the restoration and ensure the work was consistent with the historic nature of the property.
High Tide Capital Principal Max Pitinkin, said his company planned to a part of the city’s continued growth and success. The company also owns 123 and 133 Bank St. where renovations are already underway.
The Manwaring is a mix of 16 modern apartments, five two-level townhouses and two street level retail spaces. The townhouses feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms, interior staircases with skylights and a study area. A running joke among those who toured the units on Tuesday - with their hardwood floors, 9-foot ceilings and massive windows - was how they would be enrolling at Conn to get a chance to live there.
As city officials had promised, the renovation project appears to have spurred some nearby activity. Just two buildings away, at the Barrows Building at 253 State St., the new owners recently obtained zoning approval for the development of six new new residential units and two street level retail spaces.
State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, in a reference to ongoing development projects and the groundbreaking for the National Coast Guard Museum planned for Friday, said “buckle your seat belts because its not stopping here.”
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