March 11, 2014

Rio Nuevo Board Takes Initial Steps to Launch Development Between the TCC and Freeway

Yesterday the Rio Nuevo Board voted unanimously to explore the possibility of improving the District’s Arena Site parcel by working with adjacent property owner Alann Norville and his effort to launch a privately funded 120,000 square foot exhibition hall designed to provide permanent interior space for Tucson’s Gem Show. The Rio Nuevo Board is prepared to help manage the watershed issues on both the Arena Site and Mr. Norville’s property by diverting the rainwater flow from the Tucson Community Center into a culvert system along Granada and ultimately to the Santa Cruz wash. A number of conditions, however, must be satisfied before the Board can commit funds to this project. For example, the requirement for a hotel Notice to Proceed must be resolved and Mr. Norville must agree to deed the culvert system land to the city as District funds cannot be expended on privately owned property.

If these conditions are met and if both Mr. Norville and City agree, Rio Nuevo would pay up to 62% of the culvert costs, estimated at about $850,000; the estimated amount that it would cost the District to address the watershed issue for the Arena Site alone. This collaboration between public and private interests will maximize the developable land for both parties at no additional cost to the District, as the funds to build the new exhibition hall would come entirely from the private sector.

Additionally the board expressed interest in providing additional parking on its Arena Site, now deeded to Rio Nuevo as part of the lawsuit settlement from the City. The City and now Rio Nuevo have consistently made that lot available for gem show parking and would like to see a permanent parking solution in the west quarter of downtown, along the streetcar route. Blocking such development, however, is the same hotel Notice to Proceed requirement and claim being made by the developer Peach Properties.

Because Peach’s claim could stall development of the Arena Site, the Board authorized its members Fletcher McCusker, Chris Sheafe and Alberto Moore to attempt to negotiate the framework for settlement with Peach Properties and report back to the full board.

In further action, the Board selected the name change finalists from each of the city wards. Area high school seniors were given the opportunity to submit a proposed name and the selected winners will receive scholarships to both the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. The board postponed any final decision on a permanent name change.

Nuestro Centro
Chantal Lopez
Sunnyside High School

Sentinel Square
Alan Villasenor
Amphitheather High School

Nueva Vista
Paula Garcia
Sunnyside High School

Neo Tucson
Brittany Brandriff
Marana High School

Pueblo de Vida
Suzanne Langlais
Sabino High School

Nuevo Tucson
Matthew Giampapa
University High School