Fox Tucson Theatre
Partnering with the Fox Theatre Foundation Rio Nuevo unanimously approved a significant investment into the Fox’s $20 million project to acquire all the adjacent property to the east of the theatre and open a new lobby, grand entrance, restaurant and rooftop bar.
Rio Nuevo has owned the theater since 2012 when The District acquired it back from the National Trust for Historic Preservation following a series of complicated transactions involving the city-run Rio Nuevo, several related Fox entities, and the National Trust. Rio Nuevo took advantage of a loophole in the Trust’s Purchase Agreement that would allow the State to buy the theater back. ” We never really understood why the original board deeded the theatre away from Tucson, we bought it back hoping to help create the cornerstone property we have come to enjoy over the past few years”, said Fletcher McCusker Rio Nuevo Chairman.
“We wanted to hold on to it and steward the venue toward something iconic and that day arrived today”, McCusker stated.
The Rio Nuevo Board agreed to deed the theatre back to the Fox Foundation to enable the foundation to finance the expansion project and to raise the money needed to build the $20 million addition, using the theater as collateral for a new mortgage without any construction funding coming from Rio Nuevo. Private debt and a capital campaign would fund the entire $20 million.
Rio Nuevo offered an additional $2 million investment over two years as matching money for the announced capital campaign. The complete project design can be viewed on the Rio Nuevo website. The new project is estimated to produce ten times the taxable revenue enjoyed by the Fox today.
At the other end of Congress, the Rio Nuevo board agreed to invest up to $512,000 to help Empire Pizza expand into the vacant Hydra space immediately next door. Empire Pizza estimates their revenue will triple in the new combined location, after a million dollar plus renovation, with half coming from Rio Nuevo.
Empire Pizza proposed expansion renderings of the new front and side view
200 E. Congress
Across the street the Rio Nuevo board agreed to master lease the property formerly known as The Crescent Smoke Shop, also vacant for a few years, and improve the property with an approximate $250,000 investment in order to seek a new tenant for that very important corner.
Indian Trading Post Project
Finally, The District approved an option to purchase, with terms yet decided, so The District can control the property known as The Indian Trading Post, on the corner of Scott and Congress. Rio Nuevo would then solicit nationally for a new operator to take over the vacant space and pay $1,500,000 for the property.
“Every action we took today moves Congress Street toward even more recognition as one of America’s greatest streets and activates five empty properties producing no taxable revenue currently. It is a huge tax windfall for the Rio Nuevo, the State and for the city of Tucson and adds significantly to the entertainment options in our downtown core,” said Edmund Marquez, Rio Nuevo Secretary and board member.