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May 6, 2024

New application submitted to redevelop former UConn campus in West Hartford

HBJ PHOTO | DAVID KRECHEVSKY The abandoned University of Connecticut Law School building on the property at 1800 Asylum Ave.

Five months after withdrawing its application, WeHa Development Group LLC has submitted a new application to develop property at 1800 Asylum Ave. in West Hartford, the former site of UConn’s Greater Hartford campus.

The new wetlands application was filed with the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, in its capacity as Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, which will take it up under new business during a regular meeting scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

Town Planner Todd Dumais said Monday that the agency will accept the application and schedule it for a public hearing at a date to be determined.

The new application was filed about a month after the Town Council approved a related four-building, 322-unit apartment complex for 1700 Asylum Ave., now the site of a massive parking lot formerly used by the school.

The 1800 Asylum Ave. site across Trout Brook Drive from the parking lot is approximately 33.5 acres and currently holds vacant, dilapidated buildings, including the former location of the UConn Law School. 

WeHa Development proposes demolishing the buildings to create a mixed-use “village” called Heritage Park that would include residential housing, an assisted living facility, retail shops, restaurants, and more.

According to a letter dated April 19 and addressed to the agency from Robin Pearson, a partner with the Glastonbury law firm Alter & Pearson LLC, the application seeks to conduct “regulated activities associated with the creation of a mixed-use village development along a new street internal to the site.”

The street would provide access to “various structures and uses including retail, restaurant, spa, organic grocery, and multifamily housing of diverse types” that would consist of townhomes, garden apartments, units above commercial/retail uses, and assisted living,” the letter states, adding the varied housing would appeal “to a broad residential market.”

The letter does not state the proposed number of housing units nor the size of the assisted living facility. The earlier proposal that was withdrawn in December was altered following a neighborhood meeting in September, with the number of townhouses reduced from 34 to 24 and the size of the assisted living facility reduced from 158,000 square feet to 108,000 square feet, dropping the number of units from 158 to 117, according to the Heritage Park website.

The property is limited “by the extensive area of grassed wetlands” located throughout the site, as well as by two man-made ponds in its center, the letter states. It also notes that “no new building or parking construction is proposed within a wetland except for the filling of a small, isolated wetland pocket of low-or-no functionality identified at the corner of Building #5.” 

It adds that “much of the development envelope is within the site’s upland review areas for which the regulated activity permit will also be required.”

The letter states the site will “undergo significant redevelopment to accommodate the proposed mixed-use village envisioned.”

In April, the Town Council approved the project for 1700 Asylum Ave. by an 8-1 vote. That project will transform the 23.78-acre property by developing four five-story buildings with a total of 322 apartment units, including 115 single-bedroom units and 207 two-bedroom units. Twenty-six of the units will be designated for affordable housing.

The council approved the project over the objections of a majority of residents who attended a five-hour public hearing right before the vote, including one resident who threatened a lawsuit if the proposal was approved.

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