UConn has returned to Hartford.
The campus, which was moved from West Hartford, includes the renovated and expanded historic former Hartford Times building, classroom and office space at 38 Prospect St. and shared space in the Hartford Public Library.
UConn had a campus in Hartford from 1939 until 1970, when it moved to West Hartford.
“This is a great day for Hartford, it was a great day for UConn, it's a great day for the state of Connecticut,” Hartford mayor Luke Bronin said.
Monday, the start of the first school year at UConn's new Hartford campus, is just as much about as education as it is economy.
“It's not just that this campus will bring thousands of students to the heart of our capital city every day adding to the energy and the vitality and the vibrancy of the city,” Bronin said.
The downtown campus will educate about 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students and provide work for almost 300 full- and part-time employees.
Between the new Hartford campus and the Graduate Business Learning Center, UConn will be bringing more than 3,100 students to downtown Hartford.
Bronin boasted that the new campus has the potential to bring business to surrounding areas like the nearby Front Street District.
“When we first moved in a few years ago we knew it was coming and it was kind of something to wait for,” said Phil Parise, the general manager of Nix’s restaurant.
Parise said the new campus is why many businesses built in the area years before the campus became a reality.
Parise says his restaurant is now catering to the college crowd by adding a cafe to accommodate the new clientele.
“We put a lounge area and we have charging stations coming in upgraded our Wi-Fi, so it's a place to come and grab a coffee hang out,” Parise said.
It took a little gumption to come here before the people came,” Peter Turner said.
Peter Turner, of Infinity Music Hall and Bistro, says UConn's new campus is an investment for Hartford and one he hopes takes his business to a higher note
“We can do more shows and we can fill the empty seats for the shows that we do have, there's a lot of potential for growth here,” Turner said.
Bronin hopes that growth carries beyond city lines.
“A strong and vibrant capital city makes for a stronger more vibrant more competitive state of Connecticut,” Bronin said.
Barnes & Noble has also opened the new UConn Bookstore on Front Street and will offer textbooks and general interest books, a Starbucks café, indoor and outdoor seating, a grab-and-go style food market, and a selection of UConn apparel and other merchandise.
Several downtown businesses, including nearly a dozen restaurants and other locations, have signed on to accept Husky Bucks, a debit-style card UConn issues for its students’ use.