As of today (Jan. 4), the Storrs Center project has the green light for its first phase from both the Mansfield Town Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The council vote follows Monday’s vote by the PZC that approved a development agreement between the town and Leyland Alliance and Education Realty Trust Inc. (EDR) by a 5-4 vote, with assenting members saying that the plans are in line with the town’s plan of conservation and development.
PZC members Gregory Lewis, Joann Goodwin, Roswell Hall and Peter Plante voted against a resolution supporting the plan that was forwarded to the Town Council.
Voting for the resolution were PZC Chair Rudy Favretti and members Michael Beal, Katherine Holt, Barry Pociask and Bonnie Ryan.
Had the majority of the PZC rejected the agreement, the Town Council could only approve it with a two-thirds majority. With the PZC’s 5-4 vote, the Town Council merely needed a majority vote.
The agreement spells out which responsibilities lie with the town and which with the master developer Leyland Alliance and EDR, which is contracted to build 290 rental units as part of the first stages of the project.
Under pressure of the lingering economic recession, the first phase of the project has been broken down into smaller bites, known as Phase 1A and Phase 1B. Together, they comprise roughly $87.6 million of the estimated $220 million price tag for the mixed-use project.
When completed, these phases are to result in about 73,400 square feet of retail space and at least 769 additional parking spaces.
Town Manager Matthew Hart said the town, as “co-developer” of this new “downtown” adjacent to the UConn campus, will be responsible for some infrastructure, including new roads and improvements to existing roads – most notably Storrs Road (Route 195), and a parking garage.
Hart also said Leyland Alliance will retain any rights to commercial activity around the new Town Green, but the town will be free to hold events and set policy for the green’s use.
Goodwin questioned why Leyland Alliance should retain commercial rights. Leyland Alliance Vice President Howard Kaufman said this is to keep out vendors who would provide competition to the company’s commercial tenants.
Among the objections raised by members who didn’t vote in favor of the agreement is Leyland Alliance’s decision to bring in a partner, EDR, known for building student housing – instead of the market-rate apartments and other housing the town desires.
Town attorney Dennis O’Brien said the agreement includes language that requires EDR to target a broad range of tenants for market-rate apartments. Also, the special design guidelines for the project prohibit dormitory-style apartments. While EDR is also required to offer 12-month leases, there is some flexibility in the agreement. If EDR has trouble filling the apartments, it can offer shorter leases.
Posted Jan. 4, 2011, as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan