Sep 22, 2010 8:37 PM
TUCSON - Downtown Tucson is coming back to life with help from construction cranes and new cuisine. Drive into downtown and you can't miss the cranes. One was used to build the new MLK apartments and now the new Unisource Energy building.
And on almost every street, new eateries are bringing a flavor and life that Tucson hasn't seen in a long time.
"We're going to have table and chairs out here and seating out here. Really invite you in from the street to come into the restaurant."
Janos Wilder is buzzing with excitement to be back in downtown Tucson.
"So we really opened up the kitchen to the dining room. The back there, you'll see that's all the cooking battery with all our ovens and stoves," he says as construction crews saw, drill and pound away behind him.
His newest project Downtown Restaurant + Cocktails is located on 6th Avenue just south of Broadway.
Michael Keith with the Downtown Tucson Partnership says downtown has been booming for the last 24 months.
"It's really remarkable when you think of it within the context of the worst recession since the Great Depression."
Keith says despite the economy and other setbacks, new businesses like Janos's are moving into the area.
"What can't you see if you come downtown. The number of restaurants that are opened up. The number of festivals and events."
City council member Steve Kozachik agrees things are looking up for the city center.
"We got a bunch of private sector small retail going on right on Congress. There's a lot going on down there."
Kozachik says the city can help keep the progress going if they provide economic incentives such as providing gap loans. He says they should also stream-line the permit process.
Janos isn't going to wait for that. He says he'll be open sometime next month.
"This is where it all started for us so for me it's coming home and it feels just totally natural and right," he says.
Development is so strong we're told that nearly every building in downtown is in play including property that was vacant for decades.
Some of the other new spots in the area include: Maynard's Market and Kitchen, Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop, A Steak in the Neighborhood, 47 Scott, Yoga Oasis and Sapphire Lounge Nightclub.
For more information about upcoming events visit the Downtown Tucson Partnership website at http://www.downtowntucson.org/