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Special district okayed for Downtown Storrs

by Richard Veilleux - July 23, 2007

The Mansfield planning and zoning commission this summer approved a request from the developers of Storrs Center to create a special design district, one of the final hurdles in efforts to build a new downtown area off Storrs Road.

The commission has also approved the first building for the project, designed to accommodate some of the businesses that will be relocated in the Storrs commercial area. The building will be located off Dog Lane, near the entrance to Bishop Center.

Cynthia van Zelm, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, says 10 to 15 businesses will be canvassed to ascertain their interest in obtaining space in the building, and then designers will draw plans for the structure.

Storrs Center is being designed as a center of civic activity that links the University, Mansfield businesses and civic functions, local residents, and visitors within a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use, “main street” environment.

The project will include on-street retail and restaurant activity, offices, public gathering places, and up to 800 units of new housing.

On July 19, officials held a ribbon-cutting in front of Mansfield Town Hall, dedicating the brick walkway envisioned to connect the town hall and the community center with the downtown.

The walkway is lined with trees and benches. And, on Sept. 16, from noon until 5 p.m., the partnership, UConn, and Mansfield businesses will celebrate the fourth annual Festival on the Green, in the parking areas behind Storrs Commons and Store 24.

The planning and zoning approvals will be followed by the required site plan approval process, with an eye toward a groundbreaking next year.

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