The Nathan Hale Inn and Conference Center will one day fully join the South Residence Area as the fourth dormitory in the complex with a 280 student capacity.
“The long term plan is to permanently turn it (the Nathan Hale Inn) into dorms,” university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “We don’t know what the time frame would be for that, but it is coming.”
After renting rooms from the Nathan Hale Inn to house overflow students for two full years, UConn officially purchased the hotel from Interstate Hotels and Resorts for $8.3 million on July 1. In order to bring the building to code an estimated additional $648,000 would be spent on deferred maintenance, Reitz said.
Discussion of the takeover began in September 2014 when a third party offered to buy the hotel, Reitz said. The Right of First Refusal gave the university the ability to say no to another offer, or to offer to buy the hotel themselves, since the hotel leased the land from UConn in the first place.
“The opportunity to increase beds was too good to pass up,” Reitz said. “It is central to campus, near the dining hall and gives us breathing room in terms of student housing.”
Currently 50 of the 98 hotel rooms have been converted to three-person dorm rooms. Once the STEM dorm comes on board next year with 727 new beds, the university will have a little bit of flexibility in order to do repairs on older buildings.
“We need to do repairs on other dorm buildings,” director of planning, architectural and engineering services Robert Corbett said. “We will continue to use the hotel as swing space to allow us to renovate and improve across campus.”
Although the eventual plan is for the Nathan Hale to be 100 percent dorm which will require a few cosmetic changes to the interior to provide for study spaces and an RA station, this complete change will not occur until another hotel is built within walking distance of UConn’s Storrs campus.
“We made the commitment publicly to keep a hotel available,” Reitz said. “It is all preliminary, but a private firm might support a private hotel nearby.”
The idea of transforming the Nathan Hale permanently into a residence hall seems to be quite popular among students.
“I like it a lot. We have access to a lot of the normal hotel things like the pool and the fitness room,” said 5th semester economics and philosophy major and Nathan Hale resident Eric Allegro. “It’s been really good recently because there’s a lot of space and it’s air conditioned.”
Some students even like living in the hotel better than any of UConn’s standard dorms which is evident by the large number of repeat and upperclassmen residents.
“I feel like the hotel is a very competitive option given that the other choices are Garrigus and Busby for the same price,” a first year pharmacy school student and Nathan Hale resident Kristian Pretashi said. “I like it better because at least since it’s a business there’s more respect for the surrounding people and infrastructure.”