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  #1001  
Old Posted Jul 15, 2009, 6:56 PM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Two new upscale clubs and a restaurant will add more energy to the downtown nightlife scene along Congress St.:



Swank bars, world cuisine latest additions to Congress
by B. Poole
July 15, 2009
http://www.downtowntucson.org/

A Scottsdale native is about to bring Downtown Tucson an injection of Las Vegas energy. Longtime local businessman Luke Cusack and a handful of property owners have teamed up to launch two upscale clubs and an eatery along the north side of East Congress Street. Zen Rock, Sapphire lounge and A Steak in the Neighborhood will all be open by the end of July, if plans proceed as scheduled. A sports bar and grill is planned for the south side of the street next year.

The businesses will add energy to a growing entertainment district along Congress. The investment in the city’s heart is long overdue, said Cusack, who is spending about $1.6 million to open the nightspots. “This is what should have happened Downtown 15 years ago,” said the former University of Arizona physics major who left college for restaurant and bar design two decades ago. Cusack is diving headlong into the city center at an economic time when some fear potentially shallow waters. He is not afraid. “It’s like (Wall Street guru) Warren Buffett says, when everybody is being aggressive, be conservative. When everybody is being conservative, be aggressive,” he said.

Cusack’s commitment is evidence that new, private investors are willing to tap the Downtown market, said Scott Stiteler, a principal in the Downtown Tucson Development Corporation and owner of the newly renovated One North Fifth apartment building. Stiteler, whose development company owns the south side of the 200 block of Congress, has been working to develop the heart of the Downtown entertainment district for three years. There is a growing positive vibe among Downtown residents and entertainment seekers, Stiteler said. “If you go down there you can see it, you can feel it,” said Stiteler, who has an apartment at the North One Fifth complex.

Fernanda Echávarri, a 23-year-old resident at One North Fifth, agrees the scene is growing. Downtown crowds have steadily increased in the three years she has lived in the area. University of Arizona students who would normally go to Fourth Avenue are coming Downtown in increasing numbers, she said, suggesting there are few offerings for upscale patrons. “That crowd isn’t coming Downtown right now,” Echávarri said, noting that she’s excited to have a couple upscale nightspots in the neighborhood. City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, whose Ward 6 includes the businesses, is glad to see the investment. “It’s an amazing infusion from one person,” she said.

Cusack is convinced his upscale venues and stepped up service at reasonable prices – drinks will start in the $3.75-$4.25 range and steak entrees start at $6.95 – will bring crowds. Zen Rock, at 111-121 E. Congress, is a tech-heavy upscale club with a jazz room in the basement that features numerous leather couches and conversation nooks. Cusack said he had expected Zen Rock to be open by the end of June or beginning of July, Cusack said. Sapphire, a lounge at 61 E. Congress that will feature a rooftop, couch-scattered “sky deck” with a glass wall overlooking Stone Avenue, should be open by the end of July. A Steak in the Neighborhood, 135 E. Congress, will serve quick, quality filet mignon and chicken dishes. Meals from the restaurant will be available at Sapphire and Zen Rock, Cusack said. Zen Rock and A Steak in the Neighborhood are owned by Cusack, though he is leasing the properties. He is managing Sapphire for property/business owners Tony and Magdalena Kenon. The steak restaurant will open first and will follow the example of a similar restaurant Cusack designed for Boston’s Downtown Sheraton. Negotiations are underway for a 20,000-square-foot sports bar in the Valley Bank building at 20 E. Congress - the similarly upscale bar and grill would have space for business meetings.

With A Steak in the Neighborhood, Cusack hopes to tap a relatively untapped market. “We’ve got restaurants, but a lot of the restaurants down here are lunch places,” he said. Entrees, which Cusack called “world cusine,” will include filet mignon stroganoff, Thai spicy filet salad and chipotle chicken Alfredo; prices start at about $7 and range up to $13. The Downtown bars will be slightly downscaled versions of Cusack’s Pearl nightclub on Wetmore Road, where he said customers are being turned away by the hundreds on weekends. The Downtown spots will offer service and surroundings a bit less pricy and extravagant. “We’re not going to take it too upscale,” Cusack said. “This is more about bringing people Downtown.”

The former bar and restaurant designer for Sheraton Hotels and Holiday Inn has ample experience. His Tucson-based consulting firm, Monte Carlo Companies, has launched more than 200 establishments across the nation. “We stopped counting at 150,” he said. Cusack has watched as Downtown deals failed one after another in recent years. He blames the faltering economy, not the City Council. “They aren’t the bank,” he said. With plans inching along for a streetcar running from Congress to UA and real estate prices low, Cusack saw an opportunity he couldn’t resist. “It’s no stroke of genius. It’s the time to do it. The economy is down,” he said. The businesses are not a short-term investment for Cusack, who joins a raft of investors who are sinking energy and cash into the city’s center. “Many of these deals we have are 20 year leases,” he said.

Stiteler considers the businesses a move toward an entertainment/residential critical mass that could be self-sustaining. “We’re nearing that point where things are beginning to crystallize,” he said. Zen Rock, Sapphire and A Steak in the Neighborhood will employ a combined 85 people, about a third of them full time. The bars will be open Thursday-Sunday evenings. A Steak in the Neighborhood will open earlier in the day – likely from 11 a.m. – to capture the lunch crowd.
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  #1002  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2009, 5:36 AM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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And the drama continues...here's an employee's defense of the Rialto Theatre's need to keep the green room and storage space as part of its ongoing operations. If the Rialto block owners and the theatre cannot agree to lease terms, it is likely the city will condemn the disputed space currently in use by the theatre in order to preserve its asset and to keep the venue afloat as an anchor for the redevelopment of E. Congress St.:




The Rialto Theatre is laying claim to property it doesn't own—and here's why
by Curtis McCrary
Tucson Weekly - Guest Commentary
July 15, 2009

Most Tucson Weekly readers know that there is a dispute over property between the Rialto Theatre Foundation, a not-for-profit organization for which I work, and the Downtown Tucson Development Corporation (DTDC), which owns the Rialto building (but not the theater). The property in question—two small storefront bays on both sides of the Rialto's entrance and an outbuilding along Broadway Boulevard that is used as a green room and the theater's office—totals approximately 4,000 square feet. The DTDC owns the spaces. So why should the theater (owned by the city of Tucson) get to lay claim to it? Let me try to explain.

I became involved with the foundation in the summer of 2004, just before the city completed the purchase of the theater. The idea was that an improved Rialto Theatre would serve as an economic engine with vast spillover benefits for other downtown businesses, and offer visible evidence of progress on downtown revitalization. The theater would harness the power of live music as the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats. When we took possession of the Rialto, it was in pretty rough shape. It had a host of problems, and it was incumbent on us to cobble together donations, loans and about $350,000 in Rio Nuevo matching funds to get the theater reopened in improved form. By April 2005, we achieved that. Since then, we've steadily and incrementally continued to improve the place, mostly using operating income. In the summer of 2006, Rio Nuevo provided funding for the theater to be air-conditioned. We installed a new, first-rate PA system last summer. We improved the building at 211-215 E. Broadway Blvd. (the "green room") by adding HVAC, creating an office and making the green room more habitable for the world-class artists we host. All of these efforts and expenditures accrue to the public's asset—the theater itself—and not to anyone's private interest.

It's safe to say that the quantity and quality of acts that perform at the Rialto have increased dramatically since 2004, which is something I personally take great pride in, since programming is my responsibility. However, this dispute has become a serious hindrance, and could be fatal if the DTDC evicts us from the spaces they own. We have epitomized the "do more with less" chestnut at every step, and we've brought the theater to a significantly higher level, evidenced by the fact that the Rialto is no. 42 on Pollstar's recently released Worldwide Top 100 Club Venues list (and keep in mind that Tucson is considered a tertiary market). We have accomplished this standing with the bare minimum of what is needed for a quality venue of the Rialto's class.

The city of Tucson was—and is still—willing to make a deal with the DTDC to acquire the spaces in question. The DTDC is now unwilling to negotiate, despite the fact that we were nearly in agreement with the proposed terms of their now-ditched development deal. For some mystifying reason, the council's eminently reasonable request for another three weeks to work out some final kinks caused the DTDC to walk away. The reality is this: Our need for these spaces is not a posture. The spaces are essential if we're to continue our mission to bring Tucson the best live music possible. Furthermore, if we're to have any hope of improving the patron experience at the Rialto (imagine better bathrooms, or a place to sit down and have a beer, or a patio!), we need a small amount of contiguous space into which we can expand. We want to take the Rialto from good to great. The city wants to fairly compensate the DTDC for these spaces. The DTDC will benefit in direct proportion to our success in making the Rialto better. But it would seem they instead want to capitalize on our success more directly, going so far as to persistently insist upon a joint venture that would give them a revenue stream from the theater's concessions.

Being a part of downtown's revitalization requires a commitment to more than blatant self-interest. DTDC needs to walk the talk and demonstrate that they truly value the Rialto Theatre by selling the small amount of space that they themselves understand that we need. From me to the DTDC: Do the right thing, and let's get on with making downtown better.

Curtis McCrary is the general manager/talent buyer at the Rialto Theatre. He is also a longtime Weekly contributor.
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  #1003  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2009, 7:41 AM
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Thanks Kaneui. I'm glad they are going to put something there. Hopefully someone will buy the dirt lot behind the jerry bobs restaurants diagonally across from 5151 E Broadway. THey could put some condos or something there and add some new retail stores too. With the proposed streetcar route going through there....that would help spark some interest. Hopefully.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneui View Post
Bourn Partners, the owner of the 16-story office building at 5151 E. Broadway since 2004, is apparently still rehabbing the ground floor for new restaurant and retail space as well as redoing part of the office tower. (And they are supposedly still trying to get financing for The Post, their long-awaited and controversial luxury condo project on Congress St., but apparently haven't sold enough units to secure a loan.)

If Glenn Lyons has his wish, there will be a streetcar/light rail spur running down Broadway, past this building and ending at Park Place Mall. And since it's all within the current Rio Nuevo boundaries, it could possibly tap that source for funding.


http://www.bournpartners.com/bourn/e...ects/5151.html

http://www.loopnet.com/property/1477...51-E-Broadway/
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  #1004  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 12:45 AM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Adios, Tucson!

D-Backs, Rockies to share Phoenix-area spring facility
Arizona Daily Star
07.16.2009

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced today it will fund, build and operate a two-team spring-training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies on community land. The facility is expected to be ready for 2011 spring training, as both teams plan to train for one more spring in Tucson. According to the news release, it will be the first major-league spring training facility in the United States to be built on Indian land.

The agreement is for 25 years with options to extend, according to a memorandum of understanding between the community council and the teams. The multipurpose facility will include an 11,000-seat capacity ballpark, 12 practice fields, major- and minor-league clubhouses, training facilities and offices. The site is near Indian Bend Road and the 101 Freeway. HKS Architects will design the new facility. It also designed Camelback Ranch for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox in Glendale.
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  #1005  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 12:57 AM
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These events were put into place along time ago. When they decided to put TEP int he middle of nowhere. I guess it kind of makes sense that they would centrally locate the Cactus league in the Phoenix Metro area but it's still a f*cked up situation for poor Tucson. The Pima country Sports and Recreation Authority is still trying to get teams from japan and Korea but I guess Maricopa County is thinking about doing the same thing. Big brother syndrome indeed. What Tucson needs to do is get behind the Tucson Toros while we have them. I have heard nothing but good things about the Tucson Toros and the GBL as well. Tucsonans can't afford to be stingy with what we have and gripe about how the Toros stink. Get behind this team and go to the games to support the team. Maybe then they could fix up hi Corbett and forget about TEP. TEP should be converted to an outdoor pavilion where they could have amphitheaters for outdoor concerts in the fall and early spring. keep some of the baseball fields for the youth baseball leagues but convert from a spring training facility site. Would it hurt the city to put a water park around that area or are we looking for a new women's shelter or primavera daycare advocacy building?
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  #1006  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 2:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneui View Post
D-Backs, Rockies to share Phoenix-area spring facility
Arizona Daily Star
07.16.2009

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community announced today it will fund, build and operate a two-team spring-training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies on community land. The facility is expected to be ready for 2011 spring training, as both teams plan to train for one more spring in Tucson. According to the news release, it will be the first major-league spring training facility in the United States to be built on Indian land.

The agreement is for 25 years with options to extend, according to a memorandum of understanding between the community council and the teams. The multipurpose facility will include an 11,000-seat capacity ballpark, 12 practice fields, major- and minor-league clubhouses, training facilities and offices. The site is near Indian Bend Road and the 101 Freeway. HKS Architects will design the new facility. It also designed Camelback Ranch for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox in Glendale.
A 25-year lease is an awfully long time. I wonder when the D'backs will decide to ditch that as well...I wonder what the tax benefit will be for the D'backs organization having a facility on Indian Reservation land. I guess that's not going to benefit the state of AZ...way to go D'backs.
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  #1007  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2009, 4:53 PM
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Almost there!!

Bridge installed over 4th Ave. underpass
By Andrea Kelly
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.17.2009
advertisementWHAT: A pedestrian bridge over the Fourth Avenue underpass, allowing pedestrians to cross from the Historic Train Depot to a planned development on the east side of the street. The bridge is part of a project to widen the underpass, and add streetcar tracks, lighting, bike lanes and wider sidewalks.
WHEN: The bridge was installed Thursday morning. The project, on which construction started in June 2007, is expected to open to traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists Aug. 20.
WHERE: Parallel to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, on the downtown side of the underpass, at the three-way intersection at Fourth Avenue, Congress and Toole Avenue.
HOW: Cranes hoisted each end of the bridge to lift the 115-foot structure into place.
HOW MUCH: The bridge is $500,000 of the $26 million underpass reconstruction project.
WHO: The Tucson Department of Transportation and Sundt Construction Inc.
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  #1008  
Old Posted Jul 24, 2009, 2:05 AM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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With the Rialto now given nearly another month to vacate their disputed space, will the city go forward with eminent domain proceedings against the owners so they can keep it anyway? (If not, Stiteler and Martin will be left with vacant space that they probably have little hope of leasing to anyone else.)


Judge rules in favor of Rialto Theatre's board
By Rob O'Dell
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
07.23.2009

The Rialto Theatre Foundation has until mid-August to move out of disputed space surrounding the theater, Superior Court Judge Michael Miller ruled. The 60-day clock started in June, when developers Don Martin and Scott Stiteler first notified the theater it would have to sign a lease to pay for the space, which it had been using for free. Miller ruled the Rialto Theatre had an oral lease to use the space, which gives the theater 60 days to vacate the spaces, including a 1,000-square-foot bay next door used for storage and a 2,500-square-foot adjacent area on East Broadway that serves as a green room and administrative offices.

The theater itself, at 318 E. Congress St., is owned by the city and would remain operating there. The judge also ruled the theater foundation can seek to recover its attorney fees in the case. Martin and Stiteler were seeking a court order to evict the Rialto from the properties immediately. Their push for eviction came just after a proposed development agreement with the city for the property fell through. The Rialto Theatre Board vigorously opposed that development agreement. Miller gave the theater until Aug. 18 to vacate the premises.
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  #1009  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 6:15 PM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Here's the latest on the construction work at 5151 E. Broadway, Tucson's largest office building:



Things are buzzing at 5151 E. Broadway, which is undergoing a major remodeling to
accommodate its future tenant, Tucson College, which has signed a 10-year lease for the site.
(photo: James S. Wood)



Same number, but a number of changes at 5151
By Josh Brodesky
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
07.27.2009

Pass by 5151 E. Broadway and you'll see a rare site: construction. The low-level office complex in front of the landmark 16-story tower has been gutted and is undergoing a vast remodel as it becomes the new home for Tucson College, which will soon move from its current location at 7310 E. 22nd St. Tucson College has signed a 10-year lease for 40,945 square feet at the site and plans to move in Oct. 1.

The renovation of 5151 E. Broadway will continue through the end of the year, and the finished product will feature a contemporary design with high-efficiency seamless glass. The property is owned by 5151 Investments LLC, an entity controlled by Scottsdale-based Seldin Real Estate, Inc. Phil Skillings of Bourn Partners, LLC, which is handling the building's leasing and management, said mixed-use zoning and an expansion of space should lead to a dynamic tenant mix. "We think it's a landmark office building," he said. Tucson College, a vocational school that focuses on health and trade programs, said in a news release that its enrollment is up, and the college plans to expand its programs with the move.


DID YOU KNOW
Construction of the 16-story Great Western Bank Building at 5151 E. Broadway began with a groundbreaking ceremony on June 8, 1973. Although not as tall as the Home Federal Savings Tower at 32 N. Stone Ave., the new high-rise, when completed, would become the largest office building in Tucson, with 265,000 square feet of space.

Developed by Philip Wise of New York and Tucson and Joseph R. Cesare, president of the Broadway Realty and Trust Co. of Tucson, it cost more than $5 million to construct. By May 1975, the headquarters of Great Western Bank and the other tenants began moving in.
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  #1010  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2009, 3:41 AM
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An artist's rendering shows the outside lobby area of Diamond
Children's Medical Center, which will be in the top three floors of UMC.
(render: UMC)


Diamond enters home stretch
Children's hospital with space, privacy to open in spring
By Stephanie Innes
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
07.28.2009

After a decade of debating, planning and fundraising, University Medical Center officials are in the final stretch of completing a new multimillion-dollar children's hospital. UMC's youngest patients will likely be moving into the new Diamond Children's Medical Center on the UMC campus next spring, hospital officials said during a tour of the facility's construction site Monday. For children and families, the main differences will be space, comfort and privacy — all of the pediatric rooms will be private. And families, who often spend months in the hospital with their sick children, will have more space and fold-out beds to help ease their stay. A meditation room and separate rooms for grieving parents are also included in the new plans — currently families are often hearing difficult news in hallways crowded with hospital staffers and other families.

The new center is a partnership between UMC and the University of Arizona's Steele Children's Research Center, merging clinical and research components into one facility for young patients. Anticipated to cost about $85 million, the Diamond Children's Medical Center will more than double the size of the UMC's current pediatric and newborn units. It will occupy the top three floors of the hospital's new six-story tower, which is part of a $184 million expansion project that UMC began in 2006. The expansion project includes 11 phases, seven now complete. The remaining four are: a new adult inpatient unit on the second and third floors of the tower, the three floors of the children's hospital and a new, separate children's lobby. "This is a dream we've had for 10 years," UMC President and Chief Executive Officer Gregory A. Pivirotto said. "It's very exciting for the community."

The children's medical center is named for developer Don Diamond and his family. As plans for the UMC children's hospital were nearing completion, Diamond and his wife, Joan pledged $15 million. The donation was particularly meaningful for the couple because their daughter, Deanne, died of asthma in 1971, when she was 14. The first floor of the new tower — UMC's emergency department and trauma unit — opened June 16. Also on the first floor is a separate children's emergency-room entrance and department. On the top of the six-story tower are three helipads that are already in use. A new lobby, children's library and child-friendly café for the Diamond Children's Center will be constructed in the space that was UMC's old emergency department and trauma unit. Other child-friendly features of the new children's center are slated to include an inspiration garden, outdoor activity area, entertainment area and gift shop.

UMC is Southern Arizona's only Level 1 trauma facility, the highest designation for trauma centers. That means it's the only hospital in the region equipped to handle severe injuries that carry a risk of death or significant disability — in both children and adults. UMC is also a regional center for children who need organ transplants, bone-marrow transplants and cancer treatment. When the project is complete, UMC officials expect to have 24 pediatric intensive-care beds, 12 emergency-room pediatric beds, 36 neonatal intensive-care beds, and 56 regular beds for pediatric patients.

Like other children's hospitals around the country, the new children's medical center is not expected to be a moneymaker. Hospital officials estimate that 55 percent to 60 percent of its pediatric patients are enrolled in Medicaid, which in Arizona is known as the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). AHCCCS is for extremely low-income residents who in general are living at or below the federal poverty level, and current government reimbursement levels for Medicaid patients are below what it costs the hospital to treat them, officials say. UMC isn't the only local hospital expanding its pediatric services. An $8 million to $10 million addition and renovation of its pediatrics area is coming to Tucson Medical Center.
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  #1011  
Old Posted Jul 30, 2009, 12:34 AM
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I don't know about you but I think we (the few Tucson forumers) should get together and have a meet. Walk, talk, take pictures. That sort of thing.
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  #1012  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:07 PM
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Senate panel would ax future Rio Nuevo funds
GOP lawmaker demands that for his budget vote

By Daniel Scarpinato
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
07.31.2009

PHOENIX — A Senate committee voted to gut future funding for Rio Nuevo on Thursday to win support from a Maricopa County lawmaker on a controversial sales-tax ballot referral. State Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said he wouldn't vote to send a sales-tax increase to the November ballot — an agreement between Gov. Jan Brewer and GOP lawmakers — only to see state revenue continue to be redirected to downtown Tucson's stalled redevelopment efforts. "These are other people's spending habits that I am not raising revenues to support," Harper said, referring to Tucson Republican lawmakers who support the project. Specifically, Harper's amendment — introduced and passed in the Senate Appropriations Committee — would cut off any future funding that wouldn't pay for outstanding bonds for projects in downtown Tucson.

The budget and tax-cut package, as a whole, still needs to pass the Legislature and garner the governor's signature. As of Thursday evening, legislative leaders were still working to line up votes. In the short term, the change wouldn't mean much for Tucson or the state. Rio Nuevo redirects state sales taxes collected in its footprint back to the district — that's money that would otherwise end up in the state treasury. Right now, those revenues barely cover the city's debt-services obligations with sales down in the sluggish economy. But over the 16 years remaining in the life of the district, there's a potential for $400 million in revenue to pay for planned facilities that would be lost under Harper's change. And even Harper admitted that taking those future funds may run afoul — as some have suggested — of a constitutional provision requiring a super- majority vote for anything that increases state revenues. "I think we're probably going to discuss it more; there may be litigation," he said.

Formed by Tucson voters in 1999 and extended by the Legislature in 2006, Rio Nuevo is estimated to receive $600 million in state sales taxes by the time it expires in 2025. About $200 million has either been spent, is in the bank or is earmarked to pay off the interest from a December bond sale. Until now, Rio Nuevo has been spared cuts to its revenue for two prime reasons — there's little financial benefit to the state in the short term, and Southern Arizona Republicans have refused to vote for a budget that tinkers with the funding scheme. But that coalition appeared to be unraveling Thursday. Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, voted for the Harper amendment in committee. In an interview, Melvin said he agreed to the language but intends to try to restore the funding next year. "For some reason he's got a hang-up about Rio Nuevo," Melvin said. "He agreed to protect the money for the debt service, and that's what we want."

But Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, said Harper was unjustly targeting Tucson. Aboud said she took "personal offense" at the notion that a Maricopa County lawmaker was setting policy in a place he knew nothing about — and as part of an exchange for his vote on a sales-tax referral. Aboud said it would be unlikely for the money to be restored at a later point. "Next year there's not going to be any money to fix anything," she said. "We've got Republican legislators that don't have an affinity to Tucson … taking away dollars that are going to provide jobs and build an infrastructure in downtown." Harper had previously said he wouldn't vote for the sales-tax referral — a demand of the governor. He still doesn't support the tax itself.

Sen. Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson, who has been most vocal about Rio Nuevo's lack of progress, said he had not yet seen the language proposed by Harper. The Rio Nuevo change was actually one of three changes Harper passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee. Harper also wanted a 5 percent cut in state employment by next June, cuts in staff at the Auditor General's Office and a $1 million cut from the Arizona Automobile Theft Authority. Senate Republican leaders would not say whether they had agreed to Harper's requests to garner his support for the sales-tax referral, but all his amendments then sped through committee on party-line votes. The same budget package — without Harper's amendments — passed the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday night.

It was unclear whether Harper's proposals would be acceptable to a majority of lawmakers and to Brewer, given the tenuous nature of the deal between the governor and GOP leaders. Under the sales-tax plan, voters would be asked this November to approve a three-year state sales-tax hike. The increase would be a penny for two years and half a penny for the third year, dropping back to the current 5.6 percent rate after that. It would also be coupled with a spending cap, preventing lawmakers from spending more than $10.2 billion a year for three years. And lawmakers want to refer another measure that would ask the public to allow them to dip into earmarked funding for programs voters have previously protected, like publicly financed elections and early childhood development. The budget package also includes other changes to Rio Nuevo, part of a compromise reached months ago between city lobbyists and lawmakers. If the package is signed by the governor, the Tucson City Council would no longer be in control of the project. An already existing oversight board would have jurisdiction instead. That board would be totally restructured. The governor, the speaker of the House and the Senate president — rather than the City Council — would appoint its members.
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  #1013  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 7:32 AM
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The city is looking for ways to save and restore downtown's historic warehouses, while developer Town West wants to build student housing on the site of their proposed El Mirador mixed-use project:


City Council to revisit Warehouse Arts District Plan
By Donovan Durband
http://tucsoncitizen.com/downtown/
July 31, 2009

Now that the proposed blockbuster deal with the Downtown Tucson Development Company is dead, the City Council is turning its attention back to aiding the development of the Warehouse Arts District by seeking control of key properties that are now in the hands of the state Transportation Department–and then seeking like-minded private sector partners, rather than relying on contributions to Warehouse District development from DTDC. Wednesday, August 5, the Council will consider a proposal to trade surplus City-owned properties to ADOT for three key Warehouse District properties: the Steinfeld Warehouse, the “Toole Shed”, and another building on Toole to be occupied by teen club Skrappy’s.

Vice Mayor Regina Romero, whose Ward 1 includes the western portion of the District, would like to see the three properties redeveloped and managed by a non-profit entity that will return these buildings to active arts uses, and will propose a Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposal process to seek qualified partners. The three buildings, as well as others in the District, are likely to be auctioned off by the State and razed at some point, unless the City creates another path to developing the properties, consistent with the adopted Tucson Historic Warehouse Arts District (THWAD) Master Plan (2004).

There should be a balanced long-term implementation strategy, and this seems like a good start. Some private-sector ownership of the district is needed to get housing and commercial space developed at some point, but preservation of properties that give the area character, especially the Steinfeld Warehouse, should be a high priority. The Warehouse Arts District has more than its share of vacant parcels that can be developed for market-rate housing and retail by a for-profit developer at some point—probably after the completion of the Downtown Links roadway in a few years—but the remaining warehouses should be saved and developed with arts-related uses. Trading surplus property that the State may need for its own future transportation projects is a way to secure properties like Steinfeld without dropping cash at a time when the City can ill afford to spend any. The area has long been a home for Tucson’s true “creative class”, not the yuppie version of creative class for whom local economic development-types seem to yearn, after they all drank the Richard Florida Kool-Aid a few years ago.

Also on Romero’s plate: the Citizen’s Warehouse on 6th Street, opposite the railroad tracks from the Steinfeld Warehouse. The building is probably best known as the home of BICAS, a non-profit organization that refurbishes bicycles for people who need safe, reliable, affordable transportation. Romero wants the City to obtain an easement on Citizen’s, to spare it from public auction and to maintain the existing arts uses while Downtown Links is under construction just north of the building.

Lurking right around the corner is a revision to Town West Development’s plan for the “Platforms” site that came to the public’s attention a few years ago when Nimbus Brewing Company sought the property to build a brewery and restaurant. Town West, which wrangled the rights to develop the property from Nimbus after owner Jim Counts was unable to secure financing within a six-month window granted by the City Council, is now proposing student housing and lots of surface parking. Town West also has its eye on Steinfeld, which is just west of the Platforms lot, the site of the annual All Souls’ Procession finale.

Downtown artists fear that Town West’s plan is to gain ownership of Steinfeld with a promise to refurbish it for a brew-pub, and then decide that it is too far gone to fix up, tearing it down for more student housing. I think that student housing is part of Downtown’s future, but I can’t see the El Presidio neighborhood or Dunbar Spring neighborhood standing for it there, nor do I see the artists supporting the Town West plan, which bears little resemblance to the goals set for that property in the THWAD Master Plan. Town West has told city officials that student housing is the only use that lenders will finance for the property now.

Romero says it’s also time to construct a long-promised capital element of the THWAD Master Plan, the “Art Walk” on Toole Avenue. I don’t know where the funding would come for the Art Walk, but having been a party to meetings with landscape architects and city officials years ago concerning this project—the construction of a green, accessible, inviting stretch of roadway, pedestrian/bicycle path, landscaping, and public art on Toole between 6th Avenue and 9th Avenue—I say get it going. I drove that segment of Toole twice on Thursday, and it is anything but green and inviting. Yuck.

I know that the Warehouse Arts District plan has its detractors around the Tucson community, but we should all be able to get behind following through on plans to move things forward downtown. Fans of the Warehouse Arts District can join forces with the “just do something” crowd on this. If we can’t save and restore buildings like Steinfeld in Downtown, and practice adaptive re-use, then what’s the point of downtown revitalization? We could just build a faux downtown on a tract of vacant Tucson land. Yuck again.

(Disclosure: I have been a board member of WAMO—the Warehouse Arts Management Organization—for several years, although I was more active when I was working for the Tucson Downtown Alliance and Downtown Tucson Partnership. WAMO is committed to the implementation of the District’s master plan, developed by a transparent public process and then adopted by the City Council five years ago.)
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  #1014  
Old Posted Aug 1, 2009, 9:04 PM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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The actual "plaza" of the new Depot Plaza project will provide a shaded gathering place for downtown's east end:



Construction workers, from left, Joaquin Ortiz, Carlos Santacruz, Jermaine Roebuck
and Heath Edwards pour concrete for a parking lot curb outside Hotel Congress.
(photo: Jill Torrance)



Plan is for friendly haven outside hotel
New plaza unfolding downtown

By Rob O'Dell
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
08.01.2009

Hotel Congress and its Cup Cafe will have a new enlarged seating area come late August, as the hotel is in the midst of completing a new plaza on Toole Avenue where its parking lot once sat. The plaza, which will cost about $116,000, is modeled after a Parisian plaza and will feature brick-on-sand pavers and lots of trees to provide shaded areas where "the public can meet, eat, drink and enjoy the urban experience," said hotel owner Shana Oseran. Oseran said she hopes the plaza evokes thoughts of Europe, where such open areas are popular gathering spots, adding she hoped this will set a trend in downtown Tucson because open spaces are so needed.

Oseran said downtown has become a place of plaques that celebrate old accomplishments, rather than a place people can congregate in and use. Completion is scheduled to coincide with the ribbon-cutting at the reopening of the Fourth Avenue underpass in August. The plaza was designed by architect Bob Vint, and it is being built by NAC Construction of Tucson. The triangular shaped Hotel Congress Plaza occupies the site of what was originally a portion of East 10th Street, which was purchased by the Oserans several years ago and used as a parking lot. The parking will now be reconfigured in a V-shape extending into the north part of the triangle formed by Fifth Avenue to the west, Toole Avenue to the northeast and Hotel Congress on the south.

Oseran said the hotel will lose only a couple parking spaces in the conversion, and said the new parking lot will allow patrons to enter and exit on Fifth Avenue, rather than exiting the parking lot on Toole. She said she hoped the new parking garage on Fifth behind the former Martin Luther King, Jr. apartment complex can accommodate excess parking once the structure opens.

Last edited by kaneui; Aug 6, 2009 at 8:54 AM.
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  #1015  
Old Posted Aug 2, 2009, 6:49 PM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Historic buildings were demolished for The Post project in 2004, but five
years later the condominium project shows no signs of getting under way.
(photo: David Sanders)


Development template would serve city well
Our view: Tucson doesn't need to start from scratch as it creates every contract
ARIZONA DAILY STAR - Opinion
08.02.2009

The story of Tucson's downtown redevelopment efforts in recent years is, well, rife with failed development deals. Now City Manager Mike Letcher wants to set up a large hedge against such problems by working with the executive director of the Downtown Tucson Partnership, Glenn Lyons, on a template for development agreements. "The way it now works is that each agreement has to be custom made," Lyons told us last week. "That means you have to spend more time working on it, and there's no system. The result is you get some very unusual deals."

We all know how well that's been working out for the city. That's why we hope efforts to standardize downtown development deals will succeed. You may remember that in November 2007, the city severed an agreement that allowed developer Peggy Noonan to buy a city-owned lot and build Presidio Terrace, a proposed seven-story condominium just north of City Hall. The city's cited problem: She failed to comply with a city deadline to find financing. Noonan responded by suing the city. That suit is still pending. The city-owned property lies fallow.

Five years and waiting
Another development agreement that so far has managed only to enrage preservationists is The Post, a condominium project by Bourn Partners on East Congress Street between Stone and Scott avenues. A century-old building was torn down in 2004 to make way for the project. The city paid $500,000 to demolish George Pusch's 19th-century building and clean up the lot. Bourn bought most of the block from the city for $100 in 2004. The development agreement was reworked several times. So far, nothing has been built on the property.

In December, the City Council signed off on an predevelopment deal with four developers who promised to take over the planning of 75 acres at the east end of Downtown, including finding a home for Skrappy's youth club and spending $500,000 for an assessment of the buildings in the warehouse arts district, in exchange for land. The partnership of developers broke up, but two of the four, Don Martin and Scott Stiteler, continued negotiating with the city. Their final deal was essentially that they would develop their property on East Congress Street in exchange for land valued at $4 million. The City Council rejected that deal largely because it offered too few protections to the Rio Nuevo-owned Rialto Theatre — the developers wanted an easement in the theater, for example. Since then, the developers have left the negotiating table. Similar examples of deals gone awry abound.

Standard language
Lyons, who has been at the partnership for 18 months, spent most of his career in Calgary, Alberta, working as a city planner, running the city's downtown alliance and later operating a consulting firm. "In Calgary, I must have negotiated 70 deals for skywalks, and they were all based on the same 40-page document," Lyons said. "It was like buying a house. You had a document and you were only asking, 'What's different in this deal from the standard language?' " One way to get projects moving downtown, Lyons says, is to make it simpler and quicker for developers, businesses and nonprofits to get approval. The land-use code is a problem, for instance, he said.

But another key element of streamlining the process is a stock development agreement in which "the builder commits to do X and the city commits to Y," he said. A standard document would simplify the process and give both sides leverage if the other suddenly demands something unusual.
"The answer is, well, we have standard language here," Lyons said. Lyons is working with Letcher and City Attorney Mike Rankin to develop a template. "We'll be involving some of the developers, too," he said. Seems simple enough, but given Tucson's wild and woolly downtown-development history, we're sure it will be a challenge. We hope the City Council will support the effort, and that Letcher, Lyons and their team succeed.
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  #1016  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2009, 12:22 AM
ljbuild ljbuild is offline
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Looks like I-10 in Tucson is finally and I mean finally finishing up.

But dam IT TOOK 2 1/2 YEARS to do it. Whereas here in Phoenix it took

slightly over a year to widen the Superstition (hwy 60) from three lanes in

each direction to 6 lanes & in some areas there are 7 lanes (about 5 years ago give or take).


So to sum things up,

In Phoenix:
more miles and more lanes of (widened freeway) took less time to build.

In Tucson:
less miles and lesser lanes of (widened freeway) was built but it took twice as much time.

This is very bizarre?
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  #1017  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2009, 2:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ljbuild View Post
Looks like I-10 in Tucson is finally and I mean finally finishing up.

But dam IT TOOK 2 1/2 YEARS to do it. Whereas here in Phoenix it took

slightly over a year to widen the Superstition (hwy 60) from three lanes in

each direction to 6 lanes & in some areas there are 7 lanes (about 5 years ago give or take).


So to sum things up,

In Phoenix:
more miles and more lanes of (widened freeway) took less time to build.

In Tucson:
less miles and lesser lanes of (widened freeway) was built but it took twice as much time.

This is very bizarre?
I agree things move more quickly in Phoenix metro. But, here in Tucson, they had to deal with rebuilding 7 bridges and keeping traffic underneath flowing.

I live on the west side and am glad that it is almost done 6 months early. It has been a headache trying to go east under the freeway.
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  #1018  
Old Posted Aug 3, 2009, 6:56 AM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Patrons dine on the patio at Maynards Market in the Historic Train Depot. The restaurant
has an agreement for its rent to be waived through February 2011.
(photo: James S. Wood)


City lowers rent to help 2 tenants stay
Taxpayer-subsidized leases would help keep Maynards Market and LP&G in the depot

By Rob O'Dell
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
08.03.2009

Two of the anchor tenants in the city's Historic Train Depot are getting their rent lowered in order for those tenants to stay in business there on the east end of downtown. Advertising and public relations firm LP&G Inc. is getting a $26,000 reduction in rent for its office space for the next six months, in order keep it at the depot, which has struggled to be the "east anchor of downtown" that Mayor Bob Walkup said it would be when it opened in 2001. LP&G's taxpayer-subsidized lease is up for approval at Wednesday's City Council meeting as part of the consent agenda, a list of items routinely approved without discussion.

Maynards Market and Kitchen, which is often cited by downtown advocates as a downtown success story, is getting its rent lowered as well. But Maynard's rent reduction won't take effect until March 2011 because until then, it doesn't pay any rent. A deal signed in late 2007 gave Maynards owner Richard Oseran free rent for the year it took to renovate and open the business, which he did in December. The free rent continued through February 2011 to give the operation time to get on its feet and offset access problems due to Fourth Avenue Underpass construction. At $7,010 a month, which is what Maynards was supposed to start paying in March 2011, the rent waiver was worth about $280,000. City officials would not disclose how much the rent will be lowered, saying the negotiations have not been finalized.

The city and Oseran both cited the current economic conditions as grounds for the business to pay less. "Our rental rate has been adjusted to market conditions," Oseran said, noting this is occurring all over the country. "Everybody in town is trying to work with their tenants. . . . I think the city wants to keep us and are happy to work with us to keep us there." Oseran added that he has improved the publicly owned space with nearly twice the money that was stipulated in the lease agreement — $1 million instead of $500,000 in improvements. He is also adding an office space to the property, Oseran said. He noted that LP&G is getting its lease lowered and said a new tenant in the depot has a cheaper lease as well. Oseran's market is the second store to be given a subsidized lease in that space: The Central Bistro restaurant closed after getting $225,000 in tenant improvements and free rent for 18 months — after which it failed to pay any rent.

Councilwoman Nina Trasoff said she viewed the lowering of rents as two separate cases. For LP&G, Trasoff said the city would be out $47,000 in lease payments if the company were to leave, plus another $24,000 in payments to keep up the Depot common areas, which LP&G will continue to pay for the six months. "It's about losing a tenant or retaining some income and helping a local business," Trasoff said. "They weren't playing games with us; they opened their books to us." Trasoff said the hope is that as LP&G's business improves, the rents will begin going back up as well. Maynards is simply getting a market-rate adjustment, although Trasoff said she couldn't say why the city needs to make the change now. When asked if Maynards' lease would be adjusted upward in 2011 if market rates are higher then, Trasoff said that would be a good problem to have.

The $12 million depot restoration was supposed to attract offices, shops, a museum and restaurant — and most importantly, people. But it has never been a huge draw for visitors and shoppers. Leslie Perls, LP&G's owner, said her company was the first tenant in the depot and wants badly to stay. She noted the company would still being paying the $24,000 in common-area charges and $21,000 in rent over six months. "We had a great reduction in revenue and are unable to maintain the current rent we are paying," Perls said. "We love the space and want to try to stay if we can."

Lou Ginsberg, the city's special-projects manager for real estate, said the city rewrote the lease after LP&G approached the city and opened up its books to prove its financial situation. Ginsberg said the lease was on the consent agenda because "that's where we put lease agreements." He declined to comment on the lease for Maynards because he said it isn't finished. Council members Karin Uhlich and Regina Romero both said it might be better financially for the city to lower the lease payments rather than have the business vacate the space. Both declined to comment on the lease for Maynards because they had not seen information about it.

Last edited by kaneui; Aug 6, 2009 at 8:42 AM.
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  #1019  
Old Posted Aug 6, 2009, 8:39 AM
kaneui kaneui is offline
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Steinfeld Warehouse



Concept drawing of Steinfeld conversion



Concept drawing of 191-197 E. Toole Ave. conversions
(photo, renders: Tucson Citizen)



Warehouses at 191-197 E. Toole Ave.
(photo: A. E. Araiza)



Mayor & Council: Develop Warehouses for Arts & Downtown Revitalization
by Ben McNitt
http://tucsoncitizen.com/art/
August 5, 2009

THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL THIS AFTERNOON UNANIMOUSLY OKAYED the first step in a series of land-swaps and leases to breathe life into plans to convert downtown warehouses into affordable living and working space for artists and in the process make the district a destination for citizens and tourists alike seeking entertainment, dining and fun. “It’s a good move,” said Warehouse Arts Management District (WAMO) President Marvin Shaver. “This is saving some important buildings and moving toward realizing the vision of the 2004 arts district master plan.” WAMO will bid to acquire the buildings on the land the city will receive in a land swap with the state. Other bidders are possible, too.

The bottom line here is that within a year the long abandoned Steinfeld Warehouse at 101 W. 6th St. could begin a new life as artists' residences, workshops and galleries. Done right, it could be the keystone of an economically vibrant and attractive arts district to give a core identity to the city’s long neglected downtown. Council members at today’s study session where the first steps were approved seemed keen to assure that it be done right. Vice Mayor Regina Romero and council members Nina Trasoff and Karin Uhlich spoke about performance deadlines in any final deal and provisions to ensure development is consistent with the arts district master plan. “This is really pretty wonderful,” said council member Steve Leal, “because it writes artists into the district’s development using the powerful principle of affordability.”

The plan would keep all the land in the city’s possession and provide that allcosts for code upgrades and improvements be paid by the entity that wins a bid to acquire the buildings. Here are the details in brief: the city will acquire Steinfeld’s and “the Toole shed” properties at 191 and 197 E. Toole from the Arizona Department of Transportation in exchange for city-owned property. Within a projected 60 days, the city will prepare Requests for Qualifications and Proposals for long term leases to upgrade and develop the buildings. Once a bid is awarded, work will begin.

Shaver said that if WAMO wins the bid he’d expect some initial occupancy at the Steinfeld Warehouse within a year and completion within three years. This blog will keep you posted as the plan progresses, but suffice it to say today was a milestone in shifting downtown revitalization into gear.

Full disclosure: I volunteer on WAMO’s communications team.
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  #1020  
Old Posted Aug 7, 2009, 11:18 PM
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^ About time. That area could really take off. WAMO if done right could really be a unique area in downtown.
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