Storrs Center in Mansfield continues to grow with Geno's Grille

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Fri., Apr. 26, 2013
Commercial store fronts are open for business in the first phase of the Storrs Center project. Photo contributed by Mansfield Downtown Partnership. - Contributed Photo

There have been several new announcements recently regarding Storrs Center, the new mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented downtown in Mansfield. Geno’s Grille is now open at 9 Dog Lane.  Geno’s is the newest restaurant to be operated by the UConn women's basketball coach and his partners, who also own and operate Geno’s Fast Break in four locations at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville. “This is an incredible opportunity for us.  Our new location in Storrs Center will afford us the ability to reach a core group of consumers and offer them a fantastic product,” said Auriemma. 

Geno’s Grille seats more than 100 people and offers both indoor and outdoor seating.  Plans for Geno’s are to provide a relaxed, yet fun, dining experience. “With Mr. Auriemma’s national reputation in the collegiate sports world, and the success of his restaurant at Mohegan Sun, Geno’s Grille will be a signature restaurant and is sure to be a major draw,” said Howard Kaufman, managing member of LeylandAlliance, on behalf of Storrs Center. 

Geno’s joins sixteen other restaurants, service establishments, and commercial tenants that have opened in Storrs Center over the last several months.  Storrs Center is a $200 million, mixed-use town center that includes new retail, restaurant, office, and residential development within a planned community of pedestrian walkways, green spaces, and conservation areas.

Also joining Storrs Center will be the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. The museum will relocate in the fall from UConn’s Depot campus to a more accessible exhibition and performance space that is part of the new branch of the UConn Co-op at Storrs Center. “Our move to Storrs Center is a great opportunity for the Ballard Institute to thrive in the middle of a busy community environment,” said John Bell, director of the museum.  The museum will occupy 4,332 square feet of museum, performance and support space on the first floor of the building, providing expanded space for one large exhibition or two smaller simultaneous exhibitions.

The museum’s permanent collection includes 2,500 puppets consisting of a wide variety of marionettes, hand puppets, shadow fingers, rod puppets, toy theaters, and other figures, as well as hundreds of traditional puppets from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. It also includes hundreds of books and more than 1,000 videos and other audio-visual resources. UConn is one of only two universities in the country offering a bachelor’s of fine arts in puppet arts and the only one offering master’s degrees in puppet arts.

When visiting downtown, there are several parking options available. The Storrs Center parking garage, adjacent to One Royce Circle and accessible from Dog Lane, offers free parking for the first two hours.  After that, the cost is one dollar per hour.  Visitors may also park in the Dog Lane lot across the street.  Parking is free in the lot but limited to two hours.  For quick stops, on-street parking is available for 30 minutes in front of Nine Dog Lane.

Mansfield Downtown Partnership Executive Director Cynthia van Zelm pointed out that, as the project progresses, expenses incurred are being offset by revenues. While there is a partial tax abatement involved for phases 1A and 1B of the Storrs Center project,  revenues coming into a Storrs Center Reserve account are being used to offset expenses. “There’s been about $200,000 so far collected in taxes, and there are permit fees being collected as well,” said van Zelm. Expenses related to Storrs Center, including operating costs, going forward, for Mansfield Downtown Partnership, public works and public safety costs, will be paid out of the reserve fund. “That’s not coming out of the general fund,” said van Zelm. 

Overall, “the project’s going well,” said van Zelm. The interaction among residents along the sidewalks in front of existing store fronts, “has been really nice,” she said. “We’re a work in progress. And we continue to look for feedback on how we can do things better.”

Additional phases are in the works for Storrs Center.  For more information, including the full concept plan and a list of shops and restaurants coming to Storrs Center, visit or

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