April 9, 2014

Rio Nuevo Board Takes Decisive Action to Move Private Sector Developments, Keeps the Rio Nuevo Name

In a long session, the Rio Nuevo board passed a number of items designed to assist private sector development in the downtown core. The board agreed to provide parking adjacent to the parcel owned by Nor -Gen and Allan Norville so that he can construct a 120,000 exhibit hall for the Gem and Mineral Show, which parking will be available to the general public when not in use for the Gem Show. The board instructed counsel to draft documents that provide immediate short term parking by leasing the current surface parking once Norville builds his project and then publicly committed to develop or help develop substantial parking on the so called Arena Site, deeded to Rio Nuevo as part of the settlement with the city. The District committed no funds to the parking project.

In a separate vote on the same parcel the District Board approved a new Request for Proposals process to explore selling the Arena Lot to a developer that would not only build the afore mentioned parking structure but combine it with a mixed used development that could become the eastern gateway to downtown. Any proposal received by Rio Nuevo would have to include a minimum bid of $5.3 million dollars and allow the Rio Nuevo board input into the project design. The board instructed counsel to draft the RFP documents. The Board did not vote on the Peach Properties settlement offer, instead inviting other developers the opportunity to improve upon the purchase price offered by Peach. Peach would be allowed to bid on the new RFP.

The board elected to split the overall name change scholarship funds among all the finalists and agreed to keep the Rio Nuevo name, citing an ever improving reputation, improved bond rating, positive legislative input and successful audits.

With Chris Sheafe and Chairman Fletcher McCusker out of the room due to stated conflicts of interests the remaining members agreed to take steps to explore the possibility of acquiring the La Placita complex. Board members Jannie Cox and Mark Irvin will work with counsel to explore this possibility and report back to the full board. Both the County and the University of Arizona have expressed interest in partnering with Rio Nuevo on the La Placita redevelopment.

The Board also saw photos of the construction in progress of the TCC Arena remodel. The photos will be posted to the District’s website. The project remains on budget and on schedule. Interested parties can also follow the expenditures line by line by going to www.rionuevo.org. The remodeled arena should be completed by Christmas.

The next meeting is May 20, 2014.