After several years of planning as part of broader reviews of the University’s current student housing stock and future needs, a new modern apartment-style student housing complex is envisioned on the site of UConn’s outdated Mansfield Apartments townhouses. Its design process will assess ways in which the 16-acre site could be redeveloped to provide more contemporary and updated student apartments and determine possibilities that could be built on the Mansfield Apartments site in place of the 1940s-era complex, which has reached the end of its useful life.
UConn houses between 65% to 70% of its undergraduate students on campus each year, one of the highest on-campus residency rates in the nation. While that creates a vibrant campus and excellent student experience, the average age of UConn residence halls is about 50 years old. Some, like the Mansfield Apartments at about 75 years old, are older and are outdated to a degree that the need for ongoing maintenance and upgrades outweigh their value as a housing option.
The long-planned proposal for the Mansfield Apartments site envisions demolishing the 270-bed, townhouse-style complex and replacing it with denser and more modern units, which would include contemporary design and amenities more appealing and useful to today’s students. The complex has been used exclusively as an isolation location during the COVID-19 pandemic, making redevelopment easier now than if it was fully occupied. The University’s intention is to avoid reopening it in its current condition to the general student population. Creating facilities that are modern, up to date, and will best meet the needs of future students is essential not only to recruitment and retention efforts, but also to ensuring they have a residential environment that supports academic success.
UConn currently has 18 residential communities ranging from pre-war historically noteworthy buildings in the East Campus complex to the Peter J. Werth Residence Tower, which opened in 2016 in the Hilltop area. About two-thirds of the housing stock consists of traditional double or single units. Student interest in on-campus living has been historically strong, with about 11,000 to 12,000 students in the residence halls at Storrs in an average year. In a regular year, almost 60 percent of UConn’s on-campus students are freshmen and sophomores, with those younger students most heavily concentrated in the traditional units with roommates. However, students at all levels have told the University that they prefer suites and apartment-style living because of the independence, community, and convenience they offer.
In addition to providing more modern housing, redeveloping the Mansfield Apartments site also could provide opportunities to increase and enhance community spaces inside and outside of buildings, which complements the University’s academic planning. The COVID-19 pandemic, while forcing UConn to reduce occupancy as a safety and health measure last year, also offered unexpected lessons on ways that student housing can be designed to optimize their physical wellbeing. Suites, apartment-style living and other kinds of housing that limited shared bathrooms provided more ability for students to distance and protect themselves, and also align with their preferences. The Mansfield Apartments site redevelopment fits with the University’s larger missions to ensure capital projects complement the strategic plan, support student housing renewal, address deferred maintenance needs, and are achieved sustainably, including through net zero-carbon development on land it owns.
The redevelopment proposal would conform to Connecticut High Performance Building regulations and would be registered as an LEED project, with the target of gaining the LEED Gold certification for environmentally conscious construction, design, and operational features. Additional sustainability measures toward a potential net-zero carbon goal will also be investigated.
Record of Decision
UConn intends to continue with the implementation of its Mansfield Apartments Redevelopment project, which consists of the following elements:
- Site Removals - Demolition of the existing buildings, roadway, walks, and utilities in the Mansfield Apartment complex.
- New Construction - New student residential complex consisting of approximately 450,000 gross square feet (SF) and approximately 900 beds among 3 residential buildings.
- Site Amenities - Additional site improvements, loop road reconstruction in its current location, and surface parking of approximately 375 spaces with a new parking deck in the western portion of the site.
- Long-term Improvements - Utility and infrastructure improvements including energy generation and stormwater management. The proposed project will also seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold and Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) certification.
Connecticut Environmental Policy Act (CEPA) Determination: On October 4, 2022, UConn published a Notice of Availability of an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE) in accordance with Section 22a-1d of CEPA, in the Environmental Monitor and held a public hearing on November 7, 2022 at Konover Auditorium at The Dodd Center for Human Rights with live streaming for remote viewers online.
Comments were received from the general public, the Town of Mansfield, and the CT Forest & Park Association. UConn prepared responses to the substantive issues raised in the comments on the EIE and on supplemental materials or amendments. Comments, responses and UConn's conclusion is documented in the Record of Decision for the proposed action.
On December 20, 2022, UConn published the Record of Decision in the Environmental Monitor in accordance with Section 22a-1a-10(d) of CEPA. On January 3, 2023, the Record of Decision was amended and republished in the Environmental Monitor to include the following two documents as Appendix H: (1) a copy of the EIE's Notice of Availability as published in the Environmental Monitor on October 4, 2022 and (2) a copy of the legal notice of the EIE's Notice of Availability as published in the Willimantic Chronicle on October 5, 12, and 19, 2022.
Inquiries and requests to view and or copy documents, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, must be submitted at https://publicrecords.uconn.edu/make-a-request.
What happens next: UConn has submitted the Record of Decision to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for review. OPM's determination regarding the Record of Decision will appear in a future edition of the Environmental Monitor.
Notice of Environmental Impact Evaluation
Project Description: The University of Connecticut is planning a design-build project to redevelop the existing 270-bed apartment complex known as Mansfield Apartments located at 1 South Eagleville Road in Mansfield, Connecticut. Built between the 1940s to 1950s, the complex has reached the end of its useful life as campus housing and requires renewal. Three new apartment buildings are proposed with associated utility services, best stormwater management, redesigned site access and parking over the existing 16-acre development. The redeveloped site will continue to provide housing for UConn students and be owned and operated by the University.
Project Map: A map of the project area is available at https://updc.uconn.edu/?p=3013.
Scoping Notice and Post-Scoping Notice: Beginning on February 22, 2022, the University published the first of three Notices of Scoping in the Environmental Monitor. A public scoping meeting was held on March 10, 2022, and the 30-day comment period closed on March 24, 2022. The University published a Post-Scoping Notice in the Environmental Monitor on June 7, 2022.
The University prepared an Environmental Impact Evaluation (EIE). The public may view an electronic copy of this EIE at https://updc.uconn.edu/?p=3014 and a hard copy was made available at the University for viewing upon request.
Comments on this EIE were accepted until 5pm on Friday, November 18, 2022.
There was a public hearing scheduled for this EIE on:
Date: Monday, November 7, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm ET
Place: Konover Auditorium at The Dodd Center for Human Rights and streaming live at http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/uyrei
Notes: Parking is recommended in the South Parking Garage located at 2366 Jim Calhoun Way, Storrs, CT 06269
A copy of the public hearing presentation is available at https://updc.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/1525/2022/12/MA-EIE-Public-Hearing-Presentation.pdf
Written comments and/or questions about the meeting, project, or the EIE were sent to the following agency contact (E-Mail preferred, please use “Mansfield Apts EIE” in the subject line):
Name: John Robitaille, Senior Project Manager
Agency: University Planning, Design and Construction
Address: 3 Discovery Drive, U-6038, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-6038
Phone: (860) 486-5930
Inquiries and requests to view and or copy documents, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, must be submitted at https://publicrecords.uconn.edu/make-a-request/.
What happens next: The University is reviewing the comments received and may conduct further environmental study and analysis or amend the EIE. The University is also preparing responses to the substantive issues raised in review of the comments received. Those responses, and all supplemental materials and comments, shall be made available in a Record of Decision that will appear in a future issue of the Environmental Monitor.