The Day – A building in downtown New London to accommodate Conn College students

New London – Downtown is set to see an influx of students this summer as Connecticut College, which expects record numbers of incoming students, expands its housing options to a state building Street.

The college’s Board of Trustees has approved a partnership with High Tide Capital to lease most of the three floors of the Manwaring Building at 223-229 State St. The 21-unit complex, which is undergoing a landmark renovation, could accommodate 60 students and help alleviate the lack of space on campus.

In an email to the university community on Monday, school officials said their senior administrative team had discussed the plan with faculty, students and staff on key governance committees, as well as professors. and the staff of the Holleran Center for Community Action.

“The conversation and feedback on campus has been helpful and quite positive, even enthusiastic,” reads the message, signed by President Katherine Bergeron, Dean of Students Victor Arcelus and Vice President of Finance and Administration Rich Madonna.

Those comments were presented to the school’s board on Friday during its review of the proposal.

“The overwhelming consensus of the Board was that this arrangement will help the College meet the immediate housing needs of students; offer a new dimension to student life; provide expanded opportunities for community engagement and academic programs downtown; strengthen our relationship with our host city; and contribute to the economic revitalization of the historic center of New London,” the message read.

Dash Davidson, director of High Tide Capital, said he was excited about the prospect of completing the Manwaring Building and at the same time ‘energizing downtown New London in a way that hasn’t happened since. long time”.

“This is a big step for Connecticut College and a big step for New London,” Davidson said.

Connecticut College’s last major push to invest in the downtown core came from former college president Claire Gaudiani, who in the late 1990s headed the city’s development corporation and proposed investments major in the city center. Downtown student accommodation never materialized.

New London Mayor Michael Passero said bringing students to the city center has long been a goal and will benefit the city economically and create a closer connection to the school.

“One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that the college has started to seriously look at the need for off-campus housing,” Passero said. “This will immediately benefit the dynamism of our downtown businesses. This is the achievement of a goal that we are working on.”

Arcelus said the school typically expects around 500 freshmen per year. This year, 660 students made deposits before the May 1 deadline to attend school. The school has already created more space to accommodate larger numbers on campus by converting places such as lounges into bedrooms, but more space is needed.

College officials, including Bergeron, have remained in close communication with city officials about ongoing building developments, keeping an eye out for opportunities to house students off-campus and create “another link between campus and the city,” Arcelus said. These conversations included representatives from the Coast Guard Academy and Mitchell College.

“We haven’t been able to get there until this point where we clearly don’t have enough room on campus to accommodate everyone,” Arcelus said.

The school has a four-year residency requirement, but for the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, it had allowed a small percentage of students to live off-campus, provide isolation space and to accommodate students who were unable to study abroad. due to travel restrictions. The students, however, were scattered in the surrounding towns.

“As we looked to the year ahead, we wanted to identify a strategy that would keep students together as a community,” Arcelus said.

Bergeron has in the past spoken of a desire for the college to play a bigger role in the city. There is a national movement among urban colleges investing in struggling municipalities such as Yale University in New Haven.

High Tide Capital owns Manwaring and 133 Bank St., formerly Jason’s Furniture, where a similar adaptive reuse project is underway.

Davidson said he expects a five-year tenure with Connecticut College. The terms of this lease have not been made public. The college will offer the units in a lottery to upperclass students and does not expect there to be a lack of interest. The cost for students is integrated into the tuition fees.

High Tide Capital bought the Manwaring building last year and planned a mix of one and two bedroom units. The building also includes five 2,000 square foot two-level townhouse-style units at the rear of the building. Prices, when the project was announced last year, were tentatively set at between $1,250 and $1,950 per month.

The school plans to use the one-bedroom units to house two students and four students each in the two-bedroom/two-bathroom units and townhouses. Each unit has a kitchen, living room, washing machine and dryer. The building also has a common area that could be used for student gatherings.

Conn said the building can accommodate an on-site staff member, as well as two residential and life education student leaders.

There are two retail spaces at street level, one of which is expected to be occupied by the college. Davidson said he expects to have a gym in the other. Conn has yet to announce its plans for the retail space.

The building has a key card entry system and surveillance cameras that will be linked to the university campus. A pedestrian walkway connects the building to a public car park. In addition to a fixed bus route, Connecticut College said it is working with the city on how students can use the on-demand SmartRide shuttle service with costs covered by the college.

Brian Lyman, chief broker at Parker Benjamin Real Estate Services and construction manager at The Manwaring, said the building was originally scheduled for completion in October, but work is already well ahead of schedule. He said crews are ready to ramp up construction and extend work hours to complete the work by mid-August in time for the students to arrive.

Lyman credited city staff with helping streamline the approval and permitting process. The historic preservation of the building includes the removal and refurbishment of hundreds of windows which will be reinstalled with new energy efficient glass. The building, which was constructed in 1913 and features granite stairs and an elevator, was designed by Dudley St. Clair Donnelly, an architect for a number of notable downtown buildings including the Crocker House building and Dewart on State Street.

Connecticut College provided a link The Manwaring at www.manwaringct.com

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David H. Henry