Future 4th Avenue development sparks mixed reaction among busine - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Future 4th Avenue development sparks mixed reaction among businesses

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TUCSON - Future development along 4th Avenue has some businesses scratching their heads while others are keeping a bit more optimistic.

The Spring Street Fair, set to bring in hundreds of thousands of people this weekend, is a prime money maker for locally-owned businesses on 4th Avenue.

However, for the Chocolate Iguana, which has been in business for nearly 30 years, this year marks their last time to enjoy Street Fair crowd.

The Chocolate Iguana announced via Facebook it was closing its doors at the end of March.

An excerpt from the post states, “We are being forced out of what has been our home for the last 27 years. Scott Biaggi, current owner of the property wants our space. He has leased it out to a Colorado based coffee shop for which he is an investor.”

The post goes on to say “We are mourning this loss not only for ourselves, but for Tucson and all the generations of families that have come through our door. We have loved being part of your life and hope you’ll come by and see us before March 31.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kocazhik also expressed disappointment in the shuttering of the Chocolate Iguana.

 "Let's make sure we keep the local emphasis -- that we don't have a Starbucks on 4th Avenue. That would be totally out of character of what we see here in the area,” Kozachik said.

Kozachik is fighting against the prospect of a student housing tower being built where the Flycatcher bar (formerly the Plush) currently resides.

He is for market-rate housing, which includes the proposed mixed-used (retail/housing) project to go in place of Maloney’s Tavern.

"With market rate housing and people moving down, downsizing from the foothills, millennials, people moving in, a new demographic is going to bring in more customers,” Kozachik said.

For Jimi Gianatti, owner of poster-making company Pop Narkotic, the shuttering of businesses like the Flycatcher, equates to a loss in business for him.

Gianatti’s posters promote entertainment performing at various venues along 4th Avenue.  

Regarding housing projects, he’s not too keen on the idea.

"The mall-ification of 4th Avenue is what we're having here. It's going to be shiny and bright for two years and then people are going to -- it loses its authenticity, it loses its charm. People will stop coming here and all you'll have is huge housing,” Gianatti said.

As for Julian Nunez, owner of Downtown Parlor Swank on 4th, he’s all for additional housing and establishment of new businesses, as long as it doesn’t tarnish the eclectic vibe of the historic strip.

 "I'm excited for the business and the change and progress that is happening down here on 4th Avenue.”

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