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UConn balks at West Hartford site valuation

BY Gregory Seay

2/20/2018
PHOTO | HBJ File
PHOTO | HBJ File
Students walking through UConn's West Hartford campus in 2016. The campus in now vacant and UConn is trying to sell it.
UConn says it's appealing West Hartford's $24 million assessed value of its former campus site that the town at one time planned to buy.

The state's flagship university, based in the Storrs section of Mansfield, said it filed its appeal with the town Tuesday, the deadline, to preserve any buyer's future right to challenge once the property changes hands.

As a state-funded institution, UConn does not pay property taxes on any of its campuses and buildings located within municipalities across Connecticut.

However, UConn is disputing one of the state's wealthiest suburban communities' assessed value of $24.3 million for the two campus parcels and their building improvements at 1700-1800 Asylum Ave.

West Hartford Town Assessor Joseph Dakers Sr. confirmed Tuesday receipt earlier in the day of UConn's appeal of its valuation of two tracts totaling 58 acres and buildings totaling 193,000 square feet.

The valuation, UConn claims, is crucial to the school's efforts to sell off the campus at an undetermined price to an unidentified private buyer. UConn last Sept. relocated its West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford's Front Street district. The new owner will pay property taxes based on the assessed value of the land and buildings.

"A lower tax liability will also make the property more attractive to potential buyers,'' UConn said in a statement Tuesday.

In June 2016, UConn and West Hartford agreed to a $5 million sale price for the campus. But both sides later settled on a $1 million purchase price; however, the transaction was never finalized.

UConn says it's fielding inquiries from potential buyers and that the campus is vacant, except for a handful of staffers in its Agricultural Extension office, who are relocating this summer.