UConn board approves $140 million final budget for Hartford campus, up from $115 million

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STORRS, Connecticut — The University of Connecticut's Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a $140 million final budget for the construction of a new satellite campus in downtown Hartford, $25 million more than originally projected.

Laura Cruickshank, UConn's master planner and chief architect, told the board that more work than expected will be needed to stabilize the former Hartford Times Building, the centerpiece of the campus, and to restore the facade of the building.

She said the design plan had called for spending about $6 million on renovations to the building, but the actual cost will be about $12 million.

Construction bids on the entire project also came in higher than expected, she said.

The additional funds will come from a pool of contingency money that was built into the state's 10-year, $2 billion Next Generation Connecticut bonding program to upgrade the university's infrastructure, Cruickshank said.

"We specifically allocated contingency for situations like this, because you simply don't know, especially in renovating an old building," she said. "We don't have any problems covering this cost."

Cruickshank said the school's contracts with the developers ensure there will be no further significant increases to the state in the cost of the project.

The school says about 2,300 students and 250 faculty will work at the Hartford campus, which is scheduled to open by the fall of 2017.

The board also voted Wednesday to offer its current satellite campus in West Hartford for sale to the town. West Hartford will have 45 days to decide whether to enter into negotiations for the land.

University spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the value of the West Hartford campus won't be known until a use for the property is determined.

The property cannot be used for commercial development under current zoning. It would be worth more, for example, if the town decided to use it for senior housing than if it decides to turn it into a park, Reitz said.

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