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  April 26, 2004

Mansfield Downtown Partnership
Names Master Planning Group

The Mansfield Downtown Partnership has named the Storrs Center Alliance, a team of architects, investors, and planners, to be the master developer of a plan to transform about 35 acres of land off Route 195 into a hub of retail, cultural, and residential activity.

The Storrs Center Alliance consists of BL Companies, an engineering firm from Meriden; Leyland Alliance, a development group; Marquette Property Investments, a financial services firm; and Herb Newman, architects from New Haven, will begin work immediately on the formation of a business plan for the center. The center will be located on land behind the two retail shopping strips across the main road from E.O. Smith High School. The plan is expected to include the proposed mix of uses for the property, a list of potential tenants, and a refinement of a physical plan for the area.

"Storrs Center Alliance is a talented group of skilled professionals who have been engaged in just this type of work for years," said Thomas Q. Callahan, special assistant to University President Philip E. Austin and finance committee chair for the Downtown Partnership board of directors. "They are fully aware of the uniqueness of Mansfield and the opportunities presented by the plan, and they're excited to get started.

"Bringing this group on board provides evidence that this is a realistic plan, with reachable goals and timetables," he added. "We're ready for the next step."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development is helping the partnership take that next step. It is providing the Town of Mansfield with $175,000 in grants to help plan the village center. These funds will supplement the $500,000 already awarded to the partnership by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

"We're making great progress on the village center," said Cynthia van Zelm, director of the partnership. "We're looking forward to continuing to work with the community, including UConn students and staff, to review the latest concepts of the village plan."

The Storrs Center Alliance is expected to prepare a draft business plan and a draft municipal development plan within the year, incorporating ideas forwarded by members of the Mansfield and UConn communities. Once accepted by the partnership board, the group will begin seeking a range of town and state approvals of the plan that are needed before construction can begin.

The partnership's board of directors will receive updates on the process during its annual meeting on June 10. Presenters will include the Storrs Center Alliance; Gehry Partners, the architectural firm working with Herbert Newman and Partners to design a new fine arts building near the downtown development site; and Philip Lodewick, board chair. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Center for Hellenic Studies Paideia on Dog Lane.