[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] — The wood viga and saguaro lath ceilings at the historic La Casa Cordova, 173 N. Meyer Ave., will be visible for the first time in more than 30 years when the second-oldest known building in Tucson reopens to the public, likely in December. La Casa Cordova, built some time before the first Tucson map was drawn in 1862, was closed in June to replace electrical systems, upgrade drainage and make the adobe structure more accessible to the disabled, said Meredith Hayes, spokeswoman for the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, which manages the house. Since Labor Day, a 10- to 14-foot-wide brick walkway has been installed in the courtyard so those in wheelchairs will no longer have to roll through dirt to get to the seven rooms in the L-shaped structure. The bricks cover about one-fourth of the dirt courtyard, and a new rock water catch basin fills one corner in the courtyard.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Val Canez, Tucson Citizen.]
[Source: Bud Foster, KOLD News] — “We got empty lots. We got falling down buildings,” says Susan Gamble, President of the Warehouse Arts Management Organization. But WAMO is working to change that. There are about 30 old, dilapidated warehouses in downtown Tucson which are owned by the Arizona State Transportation Department. Local artists would like to have those buildings to house their studios. They proposed a deal. The city and state would swap some land in exchange for the warehouses. The city would then deed the warehouses over to the artists. The artists would then start to work. “If we take on all the expense of doing rehab, the work of it, the advertising, it’s really a good deal for them (Tucson) because we do a public service and a public good,” says Gamble.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: TucsonRailfan.]
[Source: Ryn Gargulinski, Tucson Citizen] — Valley of the Moon is still shooting for the moon with the makeover and restoration of the 1920s-era fantasyland. The journey is well on its way, said spokesman Charlie Spillar, and it’s not stopping at rebuilding a troll bridge or a rabbit hole at the midtown park. Valley of the Moon, 2544 E. Allen Road, will be moving into the future with new additions, fresh landscaping and even compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “The Tucson community is doing amazing things to help restore their treasure,” Spillar said.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Val Canez, Tucson Citizen. Pictured: A gnome in the Enchanted Garden at Valley of the Moon.]
[Source: Daily Star] — A historic building at 116 E. Congress St. has been sold to apartment management firm Morrison, Ekre & Bart Management Services Inc. for $1.09 million. The property, listed as the First Hittinger Block on the National Register of Historic Places, dates to 1915, according to the Pima County Assessor’s Office. The apartment management firm plans to renovate the building and move in by December, said Crystal McGuire, of Buzz Isaacson Realty, who represented the buyer. Previously owned by real estate broker Warren Michaels, the Hittinger building housed an office for architect Rob Paulus, McGuire said. The two-story building has 7,600 square feet, and a 3,400-square-foot basement. [Photo source: Peg Price.]
[Source: Rob O’Dell, Daily Star] — Racing against a ticking clock, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson is again trying to give the crumbling adobe Marist College building to the city, in hopes it will save the 93-year-old Downtown building from collapse. The diocese and the city have for years had informal negotiations over the three-story building on the northwest corner of the St. Augustine Cathedral square, but neither party wants to pay the $1 million minimum cost to stabilize the building.
Now the diocese has offered to raise about $250,000 toward making the building structurally sound, although the city still hasn’t jumped on the deal because of the price tag and the uncertainty of what the building would be used for once it is stabilized. The diocese is also offering to include a portion of the St. Augustine parking lot across from the Tucson Convention Center, according to an e-mail from City Historic Preservation Officer Jonathan Mabry John Shaheen, diocese property and insurance director, said the church does not have the money to stabilize the Marist building, which housed a Catholic school from 1915 to 1968.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Benjie Sanders, Daily Star.]
[Source: Teya Vitu, Tucson Citizen] — More than 20 historic downtown buildings will be evaluated for the city’s $530,000 facade improvement program. Property owners from many prominent downtown businesses met the Tuesday deadline to be considered for the program, said Glenn Lyons, chief executive of the Downtown Tucson Partnership. “I’m terribly pleased,” Lyons said. “I had no idea we’d have this kind of response.” That’s because property owners have to make a 50-50 match for the city funding if they are among the four chosen to do facade work. Applicants include Hotel Congress (pictured), Wig-O-Rama, Beowulf Alley Theatre and ArtFare The Muse.
The selection committee headed by Lyons expects to narrow the list by Aug. 1 to eight applicants. They will each be assigned an architect and each be 3 given $7,500 from the program fund to prepare their concept and renovation proposals, which are due Oct 7. The selection committee expects to announce four finalists Nov. 8. City funding could be as much as $125,000 for a corner property and $90,000 for one midblock. “It’ll be hard to choose eight and then four,” Lyons said. The buildings have to date from before 1948 and must have an original facade that can be restored. The program is limited to buildings on Broadway and Congress and Pennington streets, between Toole and Church avenues, Lyons said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Tom Beal, Daily Star] — Diana Lett doesn’t believe students could or should be excluded from her neighborhood just north of the University of Arizona. She was a graduate student herself when she moved into her Craftsman bungalow a couple of blocks from campus 22 years ago. But she didn’t move in with five other students and six cars.
Feldman’s Neighborhood (pictured), slated to be the first university neighborhood to prepare a design manual to guide development under the Neighborhood Preservation Zone ordinance adopted by the Tucson City Council last week, would like to limit the impact of student housing in the area. The area has always welcomed students. Many of the homes have additional exterior doors for ease of renting out rooms, and many of the homes have guesthouses in the backyards, Lett said. There are motor courts and apartment buildings, but there are also streets of venerable single-family homes, some dating to 1900, that are part of Tucson’s historic fabric.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Greg Bryan, Daily Star.]
[Source: Nina Trasoff] — Rio Nuevo has experienced some growing pains. Nobody would deny this. We’ve had to modify some early plans, rethink our approach to mapping out what will be the major features in a revitalized city center, and face the reality of a listless economy along the way. These actions reflect good stewardship of a very large, complex project that is moving from concept to reality. It is only appropriate that there will be modifications along the way. The Legislature granted us a golden opportunity to create a city center that is a source of pride and economic prosperity by approving the Tax-Increment Financing District. We can’t afford to squander that opportunity by choosing the wrong path for the sake of expediency. The delays have been frustrating for everyone who wants to enjoy a vibrant and exciting downtown, including the mayor and City Council. But over the past two years, we have taken concrete steps that should assure our community that Rio Nuevo is happening.
[Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Christie Smythe, Daily Star] — Development plans for the historic Ghost Ranch Lodge and the condominium complex One West failed to win federal low-income-housing tax credits, possibly killing one project and putting the other on hold. Mark Breen, a developer who planned to turn the Miracle Mile motel Ghost Ranch Lodge (pictured) into senior housing, said in an e-mail Thursday that without the credits, “I intend to demolish the buildings and put (a) used car lot on the property.”
“Shame on the state, for they knew my alternative plan,” he wrote. He did not return calls or e-mails seeking clarification on that statement. One West, a condo project planned for West Speedway and North Stone Avenue, will have to be pushed back another year, said Dave Ollanik, one of the development partners. The tax credit — worth $1 million each year for the next 10 years — would have been the single largest source of funding for the $31 million project, Ollanik said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Daily Star] — It seems as if Rio Nuevo, the city’s ambitious redevelopment plan, takes two steps back for each step forward. But that’s not so. There is steady progress being made, though perhaps not as quickly or as gracefully as we all wish. The most recent apparent setback is that City Manager Mike Hein has postponed the groundbreaking on the West Side site for a Tucson Origins Heritage Park (pictured) and decided not to build the Origins Center, a structure that would have served as a entry point where visitors could orient themselves to the park.
Visitors also would have been charged admission to the park, which will house a reconstructed Mission San Augustín and Convento and museums, including the University Science Center, the Arizona State Museum and the Arizona Historical Society Museum. The Origins Center “wasn’t needed and I think the City Council has been clear that they didn’t want admissions charged,” Hein told us on Wednesday. “That’s the only thing we’ve scrapped.” He said the Historical Society Museum will instead likely serve as a “portal” to the park.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Artist’s rendering, Burns Wald-Hopkins Architects.]