WNPR

UConn in Negotiations to Buy Storrs Hotel

Dec 9, 2014

School officials argue it would be more cost-effective to renovate the hotel instead of building a new dormitory to house the same amount of students.

The University of Connecticut is in negotiations to buy a hotel in Storrs and eventually turn it into a student dormitory.

The school exercised its right of first refusal after another company approached the owners of the Nathan Hale Inn. That prospective buyer offered nearly $8.4 million for the building, which is located on the university's campus. 

UConn says additional money would be needed to bring the building up to code and buy new furniture, bringing the total cost of the purchase to $9.1 million for the university.

Some students already live in the building due to an on-campus housing shortage. The school leases 50 rooms in the 98-room hotel for student housing, with each room housing three students. It costs UConn about $1.1 million per school year.

In a memorandum to the Board of Trustees, John Biancamano, interim executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, said the university would be expected to continue operating the Nathan Hale Inn as a hotel. "UConn will be able to adjust the relative proportion as between dorm rooms and hotel rooms to meet UConn's needs without requiring consent of a private owner," he said.

The timeline for a full transition of the Nathan Hill Inn into student housing is dependent on the hotel market on and around the UConn campus. If the university does acquire the building, it "could choose to build its own hotel, promote a new hotel through some collaboration with a private party or simply sit back and see what the market produces," said Biancamano in the memo to trustees.

The memo also said the university does not have an agreement with the current owners to continue using it for student housing after the spring of 2017. 

School officials argue it would be more cost-effective to renovate the hotel instead of building a new dormitory to house the same amount of students. In the memo, Biancamano gave a rough estimate of $28 million for a new building to house 280 students, which is how many the Nathan Hale Inn can hold.

The current management company, Interstate Hotels and Resorts, Inc., will continue to manage the operations of the hotel until it is fully converted to student housing.

The school's Board of Trustees is expected to authorize the purchase on Wednesday.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.