Storrs Center breaks ground after years of planning
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Tue., Jul. 5, 2011
A “who’s who” of Connecticut Democratic leadership assembled on June 29 for the ceremonial ground-breaking of Storrs Center near the University of Connecticut campus.
Sharing the dais with Gov. Dannel Malloy were: U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney (D, 2nd district), Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, state Sen. Donald Williams Jr. (D, 29th district), and state Rep. Gregory Haddad (D, 54th district). Also present were Mansfield Town Manager Matthew Hart, Mansfield Downtown Partnership Executive Director Cynthia van Zelm, incoming UConn President Susan Herbst, UConn President Emeritus Philip Austin, Mansfield Downtown Partnership President Philip Lodewick and representatives from Storrs Center Alliance (an affiliate of Leyland Alliance, LLC) and Education Realty Trust, Inc., co-developers for the project.
But the star of the show was Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson, who received a shout-out from nearly every speaker who approached the podium.
“Tenacity” was the common word used to describe Paterson, as speaker after speaker talked about her many trips to Washington, D.C. (Courtney) and her continual cheerleading for the project at the state level (Williams). “Tenacity doesn’t begin to describe what we went through,” said Merrill, who previously served the Mansfield area in the state House of Representatives.
Paterson herself recalled the long history of the Storrs Center project, beginning in the 1990s, when Philip Austin was president of the university. Paterson said that “a long list of people were involved” in the support of the project, singling out Hart, van Zelm and Lodewick for special recognition. “In a year or so, we will be cutting a ribbon to celebrate the first phase being built,” said Paterson.
“The ground-breaking for Storrs Center is a tremendous achievement, especially in the current economic climate, for the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, the town of Mansfield, and the University of Connecticut,” said Howard Kaufman, managing member of Leyland Alliance, LLC. “It is really a tribute to the vision, hard work, and steadfast commitment of our dedicated public partners and the many talented volunteers we have been so fortunate to work with over the years.”
Scheduled to be completed in 2012 and 2013, the first two phases of Storrs Center will include commercial and residential offerings. The retail and commercial space will be owned and managed by Storrs Center Alliance. Businesses that have already signed on to lease include: Moe’s Southwest Grill, The Vanilla Bean Café, Cosimo’s Italian Restaurant, Select Physical Therapy, Storrs Automotive and Insomnia Cookies.
Education Realty Trust will develop, own and manage the apartments in the first two phases, which include approximately 290 studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartments. Each apartment will include a private laundry, faux wood floors, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and the latest internet technology.
According to the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, “The majority of the estimated $220 million budget for construction will be financed from private equity and debt sources by the developer.” State and federal funding amounts to $23 million for public infrastructure components of the project. “The town and the University of Connecticut have each invested over $625,000 over an eight-year period,” toward planning and operations costs, according to the MDP.
The planning of Storrs Center “has been based on principles of environmental stewardship and a long-term approach to sustainable development,” according to the MDP. Sustainability guidelines developed for the project are “based on the principles of responsible growth and sustainable development practices, including preservation of open space and critical ecosystems,” according to the MDP. The guidelines, similar in many respects to the standards for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) pilot program, have been tailored to address concerns specific to the community, such as water conservation and the protection of water resources.
“To say that we are most pleased to be at the point of ground-breaking for Storrs Center would be an understatement,” said Lodewick. “The noise of bulldozers is music to our ears, and we look forward to a formal grand opening of the first phase of Storrs Center in the fall of 2012.”
For more information about Storrs Center, visit www.StorrsCenter.com.