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June 26, 2023

With $35M state bonding allocation, UConn eyes new nursing school, expanded downtown Hartford presence

PHOTO | PETER MORENUS/UCONN The UConn School of Nursing in Storrs Hall, in Storrs.

UConn is eyeing a new, larger home for its School of Nursing, which is outgrowing its current Storrs campus location.

The state’s flagship university is also looking to expand its downtown Hartford campus presence.

Both moves are being spurred by state funding support.

Tucked into the state’s massive two-year, $7.5 billion bond package bill approved on the last day of the legislative session, is a $30 million allocation for UConn to use toward the design and construction of a new nursing school facility. It will be built on UConn’s Storrs campus.

Another $5 million was earmarked for UConn to acquire or lease property at the XL Center for academic space.

Stephanie Reitz, a spokeswoman for UConn, said plans for both projects are still in the early stages, with designs for the nursing school not expected to be finished until next June.

Following a bidding process, construction is slated to begin in November 2024, with the new building complete in July 2026, Reitz said.

Currently, UConn’s School of Nursing is in Storrs Hall, a historic building erected in 1906. UConn expanded the building to 51,000 gross square feet in 2012, because the school was growing.

“Due to the continued growth of the school’s program, the existing building can no longer adequately fulfill the school’s requirements in terms of size and spatial configuration,” Reitz said.

The new building will help accommodate increased nursing school enrollment. Healthcare providers have reported a shortage in workers, especially nurses, to meet their needs.

Plans are for the new School of Nursing building to be located near the existing Brain Imaging Research Center, which is on Alethia Drive in Storrs, Reitz said.

Surplus space

Meanwhile, UConn is considering several potential uses for the XL Center space.

Early talks have already begun between UConn and the Capital Region Development Authority about the expansion, according to CRDA Executive Director Michael Freimuth.

Freimuth said UConn is looking to add academic programs and other associated services in three possible XL Center locations, including space previously leased by the University of St. Joseph’s pharmacy program, which was relocated to the school’s main West Hartford campus last year.

UConn could also consider using surplus space within the XL Center itself, or the nearby Hilton Hotel property at 315 Trumbull St., which is being converted into a mixed-use DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and apartments.

UConn already has a significant downtown Hartford presence with its graduate business learning center in Constitution Plaza, and a $140 million satellite campus on Front Street, located in the former Hartford Times building.

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