Plan approved for new 2,500-seat ice arena; Nathan Hale Inn sold to Graduate Hotels

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Reitz said in a release that the renovations at the Inn should not affect the students currently living there, as they are guaranteed housing options elsewhere for the coming years. (File/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved a plan for a new 2,500-seat ice hockey arena adjacent to Freitas Ice Forum Wednesday, on top of approving the longtime UConn-owned hotel Nathan Hale Inn to be sold to Graduate Hotels, according to an article on the Hartford Courant.

The university was originally supposed to renovate Freitas Ice Forum last year to meet Hockey East requirements, but the move to add more seats in the renovation would’ve been too difficult, according to the Courant.

UConn officials have until Oct. 31 to develop a financial plan to submit for the project.

UConn will play a majority of their ice hockey games at the XL Center, but six to seven games will be played on campus when the new arena opens, according to the Courant. Freitas Ice Forum will also remain open.

Facilities such as the locker rooms, office, and equipment room will be renovated at Freitas Ice Forum, according to the Courant.

Nathan Hale Inn was also sold to Graduate Hotels in a unanimous vote by the board of trustees in the meeting, said university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz in an email.

The Inn will be rebranded as Graduate Storrs when the renovation concludes, according to an article on UConn Today.

Graduate Hotels is a company founded in 2014 that focuses on transforming college inns into “handcrafted boutique hotels,” according to the company’s website.

Adventurous Journey Capital Partners (AJ CP LLC), which owns the Graduate Hotels brand, will pay $8.3 million for the property, according to UConn Today.

The agreement also requires AJ CP LLC to spend $10 million to $13 million in renovations, the article says.

Prior plans had been made to make the Inn a complete residence hall if a new hotel was built elsewhere on campus but each plan has not proceeded, according to the sale agreement. Prior to the purchase of the Inn from private owners by UConn in 2014, half of the Inn’s guestrooms were converted to residence halls in order to accommodate the growing influx of students living on the Storrs campus, the sale agreement said.

The university went on the market again in March 2018 after UConn determined the number of residing students and space had plateaued. The university then conducted interviews with three separate companies that offered financial proposals, the agreement said.

“The University chose AJ CP LLC dba Graduate Hotels (‘AJ CP’) as the preferred vendor because Graduate Hotels is an up-and-coming collegiate brand with substantial experience with college and university hotels,” the agreement said.

Katarina Konon, a UConn student who currently resides at the Inn, said she is very excited about its developments in the coming years.

“I really like living there,” Konon said, “It seems like a good idea since there’s enough housing for students now.”

Kunal Marwah, a second-semester junior transfer student studying economics and a resident at the Inn, said he wasn’t aware the plan was in motion.

“I didn’t even know it was being sold,” Marwah said. “Nathan Hale Inn is a great location for upperclassmen… Close to dining hall, to Storrs Center, to classes in general.”

Marwah also said he had previously been living in North, but was satisfied with his recent transfer to the Inn.

“I transferred from North dorms which were too small and humid. I love it here at the Inn,” Marwah said. “ I think that the top two floors should still be dorms.”

Both the Inn and the rink projects should be seeing development within the next couple of years. The project at the ice rink is intended to have a “4-year window” after construction begins, the article says. Graduate Storrs is expected to be completed on Dec. 31, 2019, according to the sales agreement.

Reitz said in a release that the renovations at the Inn should not affect the students currently living there, as they are guaranteed housing options elsewhere for the coming years.

“UConn’s goal continues to be to house as many students on campus as possible, both since it makes the campus a more vibrant place and because it enhances students’ experiences,” Reitz said.


Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at taylor.harton@uconn.edu.

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