The Rio Nuevo Board on Tuesday reviewed the investments it has made downtown, the private funds it has attracted and the progress of its projects.

Board Chairman Fletcher McCusker said that the success Rio Nuevo has had advancing its proposed 10-year extension in the Arizona Legislature is due to “our willingness to show people our work.”

House Bill 2456, which extends Rio Nuevo from 2025 to 2035, has been approved by the Arizona House and by the Senate Commerce and Public Safety Committee and is on its way to a full Senate vote.

“The reason we’ve been so successful in Phoenix is we’ve shown the economics of every single project,” McCusker said.

Rio Nuevo has invested $32.5 million of Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District sales tax revenue returned by the state to launch 20 projects valued at nearly $366 million.

The estimated sales tax generated from construction of all Rio Nuevo-assisted projects is $29 million.

“We’ve had people criticize us for wasteful spending,” McCusker said. “This is just the opposite.”

The Board also heard updates and took action, as needed, on three projects moving forward:

  • Sunshine Mile: The Board voted unanimously to allocate up to an additional $75,000 for consultant services from Project for Public Spaces and for architectural services to develop plans for remnant properties affected by the Broadway widening that the City of Tucson is expected to deed to Rio Nuevo. The Board also authorized counsel to draft and disseminate a Request for Qualifications for the architectural services.
  • The Regional Transportation Authority is expected to approve an intergovernmental agreement with Rio Nuevo and the City next week. As soon as it is signed, Rio Nuevo will begin working with local merchants and local developers on 39 unique properties north of Broadway. The properties will then be leased, returned to the tax rolls and ultimately sold with the proceeds going to the RTA.
  • 75 E. Broadway: The Board was told that a development agreement with JE Dunn Construction would be executed this week. That starts a 120-day period during which Rio Nuevo will obtain the necessary pre-construction clearances and surveys for the site and develop a ground lease with Pima County and a sublease with JE Dunn. Meanwhile, JE Dunn will assess its ability to proceed with construction of a building up to 20 stories tall at Broadway and 6th Avenue with 250,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space and parking for 500-600 cars.
  • Toole & 7th Avenue Restaurant Project: The Board voted unanimously to authorize its counsel and executive officers to finalize a lease/purchase agreement that enables development of a new restaurant and beverage establishment at 35 E. Toole in the Warehouse District without a commitment of cash from Rio Nuevo.

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