As so often happens in Hartford, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.
In June, the University of Connecticut selected the former Hartford Times Building on Prospect Street as the site of its new Greater Hartford campus, which is being moved downtown from West Hartford. Last week, Mayor Pedro Segarra and city council President Shawn Wooden sent a letter to UConn President Susan Herbst saying they didn't agree with the site selection and asking that the process be reopened.
The two city officials said the site would create traffic problems and would be an "inward-looking development" that would "break the connection" that the Front Street entertainment district hopes to make from the riverfront to the rest of downtown. They say they'd like a taxpaying entity in the Times building.
Ms. Herbst wrote back pointing out that her planners had met with city officials. She said the development will be outward-looking to take advantage of the cultural and entertainment institutions. That is one of the advantages of the site.
It is troubling that university and city officials weren't hand-in-hand on this during the process, because, obviously, each has an interest in it.
The search winnowed down to three possible sites: the long-vacant 1920s Times building, a vacant two-acre site on Allyn Street, and a site at Talcott and Main streets near I-84. Mr. Segarra has expressed a preference for the Talcott Street site, though its advantages aren't readily apparent.
The Times site preserves a historic facade, has parking and could spur construction of the housing component of Front Street. Traffic congestion may, indeed, be a problem. It's not clear whether the city could get a full taxpaying entity in the building because the state owns it.
The Allyn Street site is close to the new busway and commuter rail terminal, a real advantage for students, and would bolster the state investment in the Hartford 21 building and the XL Center. The Talcott site might spur development north of the highway, though that is not clear.
UConn coming downtown is a good thing. Hopefully. town and gown can quickly reach a mutually compatible agreement and make it happen.