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CREC Seeking To Purchase Land For Museum Academy

Would Buy Asylum Avenue Property From University Of Hartford


September 06, 2011

HARTFORD The Capitol Region Education Council is seeking to buy land from the University of Hartford so it can ensure a permanent home for its Museum Academy magnet school.

CREC wants to buy 10.4 acres on Asylum Avenue that used to be the site of the Hartford College for Women. The college, which was established in 1933, was a constituent college of the University of Hartford from 1991 until it closed in 2003.

The university has studied what to do with the land several times over the past 10 years, and decided that it should sell the property, said John Carson, vice president of university relations. He said the university likes the idea of selling the land to an education organization.

Although the university still uses some of the buildings on the property for offices and graduate student housing, it intends to sell the entire parcel, Carson said. CREC would use of most of the land then lease the townhouses and Babcock House back to the university, Carson said.

That would be a reversal of roles. CREC currently leases space from the university for its Museum Academy at 1265 Asylum Ave.

The Museum Academy opened in 2008 and has about 250 students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 3. That number is expected to increase as the school looks to expand. The Museum Academy will soon accept students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 5, and new classrooms will be built for 435 students, said Don Walsh, CREC's executive deputy director of finance and operations.

Walsh said plans call for some buildings on the property to be demolished. The historic buildings will remain, he said.

A purchase and sales agreement is in place and a $32 million state construction grant has been promised, Walsh said. He said CREC is now waiting for the property to be appraised. The sale price will be set after two appraisals are complete. CREC must also have its project approved by the city's planning and zoning commission, he said.

Walsh said he expects a sale to be finalized by the end of this year and said construction should be complete by the fall of 2014 or earlier.

"Sooner rather than later would be great," Carson said of the impending sale. He said that proceeds from the sale will be given to two legacies of the women's college the center for professional development and the women's education leadership fund.

Walsh said CREC has already talked to nearby residents about its project and a neighborhood advisory group has been established.

"We intend to win hearts and minds by listening to people," he said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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