Manchester (AP) – The largest of Connecticut’s 12 two-year community colleges is expanding with a satellite campus in downtown Manchester under an arrangement between the state, town and a regional bank.
The plan, announced Wednesday, involves transforming a former men’s clothing store building into classrooms, office space and other facilities for Manchester Community College.
It currently has more than 7,500 undergraduate students taking courses for credit and thousands more in non-credit and extension courses. Classrooms, parking lots and other facilities are often full at its main campus, about 10 minutes from the new downtown site.
First Niagara Bank joined Manchester and state leaders Wednesday to announce specifics of the arrangement, in which the bank will donate the building to the town and the community college will become the major tenant. The timetable on when the first classes might open there was still being determined.
The Buffalo-based bank’s $1.3 million gift includes the value of the building and an undisclosed cash donation for support of the college.
The building housed a men’s clothing store for six decades until 2001, when the Savings Bank of Manchester bought it. That bank later merged with others to become NewAlliance Bank, and First Niagara acquired the building in its merger with NewAlliance.
Officials from the bank, state Board of Regents for Higher Education and the town of Manchester say the donation will benefit both sides by giving the college more space for programs and drawing more people downtown.
The Journal Inquirer newspaper of Manchester reports that First Niagara owns 19 properties on Manchester’s Main Street with a combined assessed value of more than $5 million, or 18 percent of downtown’s total.