The University of Connecticut has offered the city of Torrington the first chance to buy the land and three buildings that formerly served as the city’s branch campus.
State statutes require that the university notifies Torrington of its plans to sell the 95-acre property that closed in mid-2016 due to declining enrollment, according to UConn Today.
Under those state statutes, UConn is required to give Torrington the first opportunity to purchase the campus and Torrington must to notify the University that it wishes to negotiate a purchase within 45 days, according to the Hartford Courant.
“(If Torrington isn’t interested in the property), UConn would be grateful if the city could provide notice of the city’s desire not to purchase without waiting for the full 45-day period,” a letter from UConn to Torrington said.
Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone said on Wednesday that the city is not interested in buying the buildings but is interested in the 95 acres, saying the land would offer “great recreational activities.”
“Our interest in this really is not to take on an additional burden of maintaining an aged classroom building, but we are extremely interested in the excess acreage,” Carbone told the Courant.
EdAdvance, a Connecticut Regional Education Service Center, has “expressed an interest” in buying the M. Adela Eads Classroom building and property around it, according to the Courant. Carbone said it may work out well for EdAdvance to buy the buildings and Torrington to buy the surrounding land.
The UConn Board of Trustees voted in August to authorize the university to negotiate an agreement to lease part of the site to EdAdvance and transfer the rest to the city for $1, then assign the EdAdvance lease the city, according to the Courant. UConn would have an extension office on the site until at least 2026.
Since then EdAdvance has said it would rather purchase the building than lease it, citing the cost of modifying it, the Courant said.
Though the university is appreciative of the property’s importance to the city, it has an obligation to be prudent with its assets, UConn President Susan Herbst said in a statement.
“We look forward to continuing a constructive conversation, with the goal of reaching an outcome that serves Torrington, UConn and the state of Connecticut,” Herbst said.
If Torrington decides against buying the property, UConn can allow potential purchasers to compete for the campus and negotiate a purchase agreement with another buyer. Torrington would then have another chance to buy the property by matching the terms of the successful buyer, UConn said in a statement to the Courant.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.