Aug 12, 2014 8:01 PM by Lauren Reimer

Developers present plans for new downtown hotel/arena complex

TUCSON - The Rio Nuevo board met today over a big decision that affects the future of downtown Tucson.

The board has to decide who will build on a potential site for a new arena, on an 8-and-a-half acre strip of land along the east side of I-10, where the Greyhound Bus station now sits.

This morning members heard presentations from two groups hoping to get the right to develop that important property.

The lot sits empty for most of the year, except for during the gem and mineral show. Visitors who come to Tucson for the first time often see this first. Not a very good first impression according to the Rio Nuevo board.

So the downtown revitalization group asked for proposals from local developers, two came forward with plans.

One, from Nor-Generations LLC, whose president already owns an adjoining property.

"Our proposal is truly 'mixed use' because it includes apartments, 96 of them to be exact," said David Gruesel. His design company is working with Nor-Generations on the project.

The plan also includes a 140 room, 4-star Hyatt hotel, retail space, and a visual arts center, totaling 100 million dollars in private investment. Nor-Gen would ask the city for help funding the visual arts center.

Peach Properties gave the only counter proposal, with similar qualities, but different specifications.

"1,200 spaces of parking, a 180 unit hotel, a 125,000 square foot office building, and 320 apartment units," said Phillip Swaim, a local architect working with Peach Properties.

Their hotel is a Drury. The entire project would cost 120 million entirely private dollars.

The Greyhound Bus station currently leases some of this land. It would be given one year notice to vacate.

The Rio Nuevo board will choose their first and second picks on Monday.


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