Buy or Sell: UConn increases budget for one branch, votes to sell another

The UConn board of trustees voted to increase funding by $25 million for the new Hartford branch campus and sell the West Hartford branch campus, effectively moving the branch campus from West Hartford to Hartford. (Kyle Constable/Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut board of trustees voted Wednesday to increase the project budget for the new downtown Hartford campus to $140 million from the initial $115 million allocated.

University master planner Laura Cruickshank said the project budget exceeded initial projections after demolition at the site over the summer made it clear more work would be necessary than first expected. 

Funding was readily available to close the budget gap, Cruickshank said.

“We built in escalation, and we put in contingencies, because we didn’t know what the market would do,” Cruickshank said. “We specifically allocated contingencies for situations like this. We simply don’t know (in advance), especially in renovating an old building.” 

The additional costs stemmed from underestimating the extent of the renovations necessary at the Hartford Times building, which Cruickshank said UConn initially projected to cost between $5 million and $6 million, but ended up at $12 million.

The restoration of the building’s facade alone was an addition equivalent to 1 percent of the project budget, Cruickshank said.

None of the additional cost came from the acquisition and development of a secondary building at 38 Prospect Street, Cruickshank added.

New funding for the Hartford campus is coming from Next Generation Connecticut, which provided $1.55 billion to the university two years ago, as well as an additional $235 million reallocated from UConn 2000 funds, according to Cruickshank.

Construction on the Hartford Times building is expected to be completed in July 2017 in time for the branch to open for the Fall 2017 semester, according to the university documents.

The board of trustees also voted unanimously on Wednesday to offer the current West Hartford campus facilities for sale to the town of West Hartford.

West Hartford has until Jan. 15 to decide whether to purchase the facilities from the university. If the town decides not to buy the facility, it must be acquired by a non-commercial buyer, according to university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.

The university does not have an estimate for the valuation of the facility, as it primarily depends on who acquires the property and how it will be used, Reitz said.


Kyle Constable is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kyle.constable@uconn.edu. He tweets @KyleConstable.