UConn officials announced in November that they were planning to move the school's Greater Hartford campus from West Hartford to downtown Hartford in the next 12 to 18 months. The Greater Hartford campus had been in Hartford until 1970. Bringing it back is great for the school and for downtown.
The school is searching for a site in the downtown area. Last week, Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra told The Courant's editorial board that Talcott Plaza, just off Main Street north of the former G. Fox building, and the old Hartford Times building on Prospect Street were leading contenders, along with a former bank processing center on Windsor Street immediately north of downtown.
Courant business reporter Ken Gosselin has reported that a site on Allyn Street, cleared decades ago for an office tower that was never built, is also in play. So are some other sites, we are told. The school is mum on the subject, appropriately at this stage.
Obviously the first criteria in selecting a site is that it has to work for teaching and learning. Beyond that, it ought to be coordinated with other investments, or policy initiatives, in downtown. For example, the state and federal governments are putting hundreds of millions of dollars in the CTfastrak busway and New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail into downtown Hartford. It would be good if the new campus could take advantage of this service; downtown can only absorb so many more cars.
Using the former Times building would further the goal of historic preservation and enhance the Front Street development. Some sites support the iQuilt plan of cultural activity around Bushnell Park. If city and UConn officials can coordinate the location of the campus with other positive downtown initiatives, it's more bang for the buck.