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Oct 25, 2012 12:18 AM

City, Rio Nuevo Board nearing agreement

TUCSON - A truce on the verge of being reached between the City of Tucson and Rio Nuevo.

For years, the two have been tangled in million dollar lawsuits, and projects stalled.

But a white flag has been waved, attorneys for both, considering an 'expression of intent' a contract aimed at ending the finger pointing once and for all.

Both sides want to move the relationship forward, there's even talk of dropping three pending lawsuits in the process.

Starting with a piece of land known as the ‘Arena site'.

Under the expression of intent drafted by Rio Nuevo, both the City and Rio Nuevo will seek a tax-generating facility, one they'll both profit from. Something like a stadium, hotel, or mixed-use facility.

Rio Nuevo also agrees to drop it's nearly 900-thousand dollar suit against the City.

With that, Rio Nuevo will use 6-million in revenue bonds to renovate the Tucson Convention Center.

Another bullet point is the Depot Garage. The City will own and operate it, and pay Rio Nuevo monthly fees since Rio Nuevo paid to build it.

Multiple downtown properties are mentioned as well.

The church and council parking lot, Presidio property, and 351 S Brickyard. Both sides attempting to work out, who should own, operate or lease what.

Council member Steve Kozachik calls the conversation a positive step forward.

The only problem with the document, he says, is Rio Nuevo's request for binding arbitration. Remove that and he says the council will likely vote to approve it.

"What we said to them, was you take your first proposal and overlay that on the second one. If you just take one item off the table. We're not going to agree to binding arbitration with no rights of appeal of an audit your own people are producing," says Kozachik.

"Get that off the table and move this relationship forward. Rio Nuevo has been messed up for a dozen years in this city, and we're on the verge of making it something good," he said.

Once a draft revision or a vote happens, you can count on News 4 Tucson to keep you updated.

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