The Rio Nuevo Board voted unanimously Tuesday to direct its executive officers and counsel to negotiate and bring back to the board a final development agreement for what could be one of downtown’s tallest buildings.

Todd Freed, vice president of construction for JE Dunn Construction, told the Board at its regular monthly meeting that the potentially 300-foot-tall building that JE Dunn proposes to build on the parking lot at Broadway and 6th Avenue could contain 250,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 500-600 cars.

It will be the first Class A building downtown since the Tucson Electric Power building across Broadway from the parking lot, Freed said.

The project is expected to cost $110 million and will generate 1,250 new jobs and $2.2 million annually in sales tax, he said.

“We always hoped there’d be someone like you out there,” Rio Nuevo Chairman Fletcher McCusker told Freed.

McCusker called the proposal “an extraordinary plan” but explained that the Rio Nuevo Board was using a government procurement process to develop the parking lot and that unless and until a final agreement is executed the deal will not be done. The Board issued a request for proposals last year, and the JE Dunn proposal was ranked highest. The Board will work with JE Dunn, Pima County and the City of Tucson to craft a final development agreement. Until then, however, McCusker said “we are announcing a proposal,” not a project.

JE Dunn was founded in Kansas City, Mo., in 1924 and has done business in Tucson for many years, Freed said, including work with Tucson Medical Center and the University of Arizona.

Caterpillar 

The Board also approved the last phase of Sundt Construction’s construction of Caterpillar’s Tucson Mining Center and payment to Sundt of $8.5 million. The center is expected to open in the first quarter of 2019. McCusker congratulated Sundt for carrying out the project “under budget and on time.”

McCusker announced at the meeting that a bill has been introduced in the Arizona House to extend beyond 2025 the term during which the Rio Nuevo District receives state sales tax funds for the purpose of downtown and district development. He said House Bill 2456 would be assigned to a House committee, and he encouraged those in attendance at the meeting to contact their legislators and encourage their support of the bill.

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