May 23, 2022
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
These are unprecedented times for Conn. Our record number of deposits from admitted students now stands at 660, making the Class of 2026 by far the largest in the College’s history. While this is a welcome sign of Conn’s growing reputation for excellence, it also creates housing, curricular, advising and other challenges that we are actively working to address. This letter is about housing.
ON CAMPUS VS OFF CAMPUS
Our first order of business, of course, is to make as many residential spaces available on campus as possible, and we have already engaged an architect to work on simple steps we can take this summer to increase our inventory of rooms. Still, on-campus inventory will not be enough to house the total number of students we expect to enroll in the fall, so we have also been pursuing off-campus strategies for housing for seniors, juniors, or sophomores.
As you know, for the past two years we have allowed students to live off campus for two main reasons: to create COVID-19 isolation beds and to offset higher on-campus enrollment caused by fewer students studying abroad. Unlike many other residential colleges, Conn doesn't have many rental properties in the immediate vicinity, so students opting to live off-campus have been scattered across New London County—and therefore more disconnected from the residential experience than we or they would like.
Fortunately, a new option has recently come to light that will allow students to live together, increase the number of apartment-style units that we offer and enhance Conn’s connection with downtown New London.
THE MANWARING BUILDING
Soon after learning of our record deposits on May 2, Victor Arcelus and Rich Madonna reached out to Max Patinkin and Dash Davidson, two developers they met last year. Their company—High Tide Capital—works with communities to restore historic buildings for residential and commercial use. In coordination with the City of New London, they are currently renovating historic buildings on both State Street and Bank Street.
Their renovation of one property—the Manwaring Building on State Street—is on track to be completed by the end of the summer, just in time for the return of our students in August. The building is next to City Hall and within a few blocks of the Garde Arts Center, the City’s waterfront and a number of other amenities. Over the past two weeks, the College’s senior administrative team has assessed the feasibility of housing approximately 60 seniors, juniors, or sophomores in this historic property. This assessment has included outreach to city officials and other community stakeholders to better understand the implications of this arrangement for the residents of New London.
The building itself will encompass 21 one- and two-bedroom units, which could be used to house students as follows: one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartments accommodating two students, two-bedroom/two-bathroom apartments suitable for four students and two-bedroom/two-bathroom two-story townhomes for four students. Each unit comes with a kitchen, living area, and washer and dryer. In addition, the Manwaring Building has a common area that could be used as a student study or gathering space, as well as access to a parking garage via a pedestrian bridge connected to the second floor of the building. The building can accommodate a Conn staff member living on the premises along with two Residential Education and Living student leaders. Finally, the building has a street-level storefront space that the College can activate as we see fit.
SEAT (Southeast Area Transit District) offers two types of transportation options from the College to downtown New London–fixed route bus service and Smart-Ride bus service. The College, SEAT and New London city officials are discussing how students can use the public transportation system with the cost covered by the College. Further information will be available this summer.
Last week, Conn’s senior administrative team discussed the plan with faculty, students and staff on major governance committees – FSCC, PPBC, FLMC, SGA – as well as with faculty and staff in the Holleran Center for Community Action. The campus conversation and feedback have been helpful and quite positive, even enthusiastic.
We took that feedback to the Board of Trustees on Friday as they met to review the proposed partnership. The overwhelming consensus from the Board was that this arrangement will help the College meet immediate student housing needs; offer a new dimension to student life; provide expanded opportunities for community engagement and academic programming downtown; strengthen our relationship with our host city; and contribute to the economic revitalization of New London’s historic center.
The Board authorized the administration to finalize the plan for housing students in the Manwaring Building beginning in fall 2022. The Office of Residential Education and Living will send information to the student body early this week about how students can participate in the housing selection process to live in the Manwaring Building.
This is an exciting opportunity for students, the College and the city. It is exactly the kind of apartment-style housing we have wanted to make available to those seeking more independent residential experiences. As the summer unfolds, we will continue to engage campus and community stakeholders to prepare for this new housing option and we will update you on progress. You can find more information on The Manwaring Building website.
Dean of Students
Vice President for Finance and Administration