UConn trustees endorse nearly $300M in projects tied to Next Gen CT

An artist's rendering of the innovation center proposed on UConn's main campus in Storrs.

University of Connecticut

An artist’s rendering of the $162 million innovation center proposed on UConn’s main campus in Storrs.

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees Tuesday unanimously endorsed plans for a new multi-story research building, a large housing complex for science, engineering and math students and a 3,400-foot road extension to link the Storrs campus’s technology park with Route 44.

“Today is really the culmination of all the planning all the work around scientific progress at the university,” UConn President Susan Herbst said.

Science, engineering and medicine are the most expensive fields to invest in because of the highly specialized research equipment they need, she added. “But the big picture is that UConn has to boost its research performance,” Herbst said. “There’s no other way to get ahead.”

These projects either are part of, or a key complement to Next Generation Connecticut, an ambitious 10-year, $1.5 billion expansion plan to develop UConn into a pre-eminent research university and innovation hub.

One key capital component of Next Gen involves $162.3 million for what officials have dubbed an “innovation partnership building.” It involves 112,000 square feet in a new, multi-story research building to house cooperative research efforts between UConn students and faculty and private businesses.

That project goes out to bid in October.

Another $105 million in bonding was endorsed Wednesday to construct a major new dormitory, with 210,000 square feet and 730 beds, for science, engineering and math students. It is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

The right-hand structure is an artist's rendering of the propsed new STEM residence hall on the Storrs campus.

The right-hand structure is an artist’s rendering of the proposed new STEM residence hall on the Storrs campus.

The trustees also approved a final budget of $20.4 million to extend North Hillside Road in the north section of the Storrs campus by 3,400 feet. This would link that road, and the university’s technology park, with Route 44. The project also involves related gas, electric, water and sewer improvements.

The road extension is scheduled to open in November 2015 with all road work being completed by the fall of 2016.

In other business Wednesday, the trustees also approved several other capital project or project budget changes not linked directly to Next Gen, including:

  • $35.3 million for a revised, final budget for a new basketball center and soccer field relocation. The trustees previously had approved a $33.5 million budget, but officials said an additional $1.8 million is needed for furniture, other equipment and electrical fixtures. Those additional costs will be covered initially by UConn Foundation funds and then repaid through fundraising efforts.
  • $6.3 million to design and construct a chilled water generator on the Storrs campus. This would increase the campus’s chilled water production by 25 percent.
  • $3 million to design and renovate the water and sewage treatment plant on the Storrs campus.
  • $2.6 million for design, renovations and new furniture for a multi-purpose building leased from the city of Waterbury and located adjacent to UConn’s branch campus in that community.
  • $2.5 million to design and renovate the Putnam Refectory dining hall to increase its capacity from 700 to 1,000 seats. Work is expected to be complete early in the fall of 2016.
  • $2 million in additional funding for design of a new, 200,000-square-foot residence hall on the Storrs campus for students in the Honors Program.
  • $1 million to replace the roof on the Torrey Life Sciences Building. The roof is 20 years old, leaks and has deteriorated beyond repair, a university official said.
  • $808,000 to plan the extension of new water lines to serves the main campus in Storrs. The university signed an agreement last December with Connecticut Water Co. to pipe 1.5 million gallons of water daily from Shenipisit Lake in Tolland, which lies about 5 miles to the north.
  • $730,000 for code remediation work at the Mansfield Apartments.
  • $686,000 for to design code update work and other renovations at the Whetten Office building.