UPDATE: Process Delayed For Massive WeHa Development At UConn Site

WEST HARTFORD, CT — Calling plans to develop the old University of Connecticut property on Asylum Avenue “big” do not do justice to the scope of what’s being pitched.

In fact, adjectives like “gigantic,” “massive” and “humongous” might not even give WEHA Development Group LLC’s (aka West Hartford 1 LLC) proposal its just due.

On Monday, testimony and, possibly, a first decision by a town land-use board was slated to happen in West Hartford. But town officials Friday confirmed a slight delay in the process.

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No matter, the project is still marching forward with the creation of, literally, a new community in town the goal — one with housing, stores, parks and businesses all being built at the former university site.

West Hartford Town Planner Todd Dumais said West Hartford 1 LLC actually withdrew its initial applications regarding the project last month, tweaked the proposal, then resubmitted plans June 30 to the town.

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At its regular meeting Monday, July 10, at 7 p.m., the West Hartford Plan & Zoning Commission/Inland Wetland Watercourse Agency was to conduct four separate public hearings on the project.

Instead, Dumais said, it will only accept the new applications for the development at that time.

Essentially, he said, the process has been reset. “It starts the process all over again,” Dumais said Friday.

Dumais said the new public hearings are likely to be scheduled for August or September, depending on the commission’s prerogative.

When the PZC takes up the application, it will be acting in its capacity as the town’s IWWA.

It means it won’t decide the plans itself, but will decide elements of the project as they pertain to wetlands at the old campus.

The development will then be subject to more finite decisions from the PZC acting in its capacity as the town’s top land-use agency.

Unlike other towns that have a separate wetlands agency, West Hartford’s PZC acts in that capacity.

Longstanding Proposal

Redevelopment of the old UConn site, which served as the UConn-Hartford branch from 1970 to 2017, has been in and out of town conversations for years, ever since the campus relocated to downtown Hartford.

But after weeks and months of showing up in subcommittee discussions, formal applications have been submitted, withdrawn and resubmitted again.

And, now, town land-use boards are getting to work.

West Hartford 1 purchased the site in January 2022.

The development team has a working name for the project — “Oakwood Park” — and they’ve, even, set up a colorful and detailed website of what they want to build.

According to a development presentation unveiled in February before the West Hartford Design Review Advisor Committee, the massive project has multiple facets.

Those include: Multi-family residential housing; boutique-style retail components; restaurants; medical offices; a spa; an organic neighborhood market; public parks walking areas, trails and ballfields; and a structured parking component.

Wetlands Approvals Sought

Oakwood Park is going before the town’s IWWC in four separate applications for two separate addresses that comprise the development: 1700 Asylum Ave. and 1800 Asylum Ave.

According to the applications, 1700 Asylum Ave. deals with the building of five, multi-story residential buildings with “related amenities.”

Meanwhile, 1800 Asylum Ave. deals with the development of the campus itself and all other components of what’s being planned there.

For each address, the developers are looking for an IWWA permit because the project is located close to a “wetlands regulated area,” work that requires approval from the wetlands board.

In addition, each address will need IWWA approval for a zoning map ammendment based on a recent “onsite soil survey prepared by a professional soil scientist.”

According to applicant representative Robin Messier Person, an attorney with Alter Pearson LLC out of Glastonbury, West Hartford 1 LLC’s withdrawal of the initial wetlands applications is based on input received from the town on the proposal.

“This withdrawal request is being made after much deliberation and in respect for the valuable insights received from the town’s administrative staff and the town-appointed peer reviewer,” wrote Pearson in the letter dated June 16.

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