What You Thought 8 Years Ago.

In January of 2010 I asked If Tucson needed a U of A / Downtown Planning Interface effort with Neighborhoods.  Since then we spent a billion dollars a street car, private student dorms and new commercial starts between downtown and the university.  During that time we have also experienced a net loss of homeowners.   I know you care and you do great things.  You may be interested in your 2010 response and what it means today.  Are we winning the battle to maintain a health presence home ownership at the borders of our university?  Here are your comments  as paraphrased from memory:

  • Chuck Albanese, Architect and former dean of the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, CALA – Embraces the idea. Would like to see the architectural community involved. It is a good time for discussion
  • Gal Witmer, Architect, Member of WUNA long term university area resident and representative. She supports supports embracing these sensitive issues
  • Robert Vint, Architect, Preservationist and president of Vint Associates – Thinks it is a great idea and a good time for it.
  • Jim Mazzocco, Senior City Planner. Something like this is needed. Nothing specific addresses this issue. The City would have to manage the creation of any new plan for it to functional work and be administered. The City of Tucson’s budgets are too impacted to embrace a major effort.
  • Bob Smith, Architect, AIA. 15 year UA Campus Planning Director, President of the AIA, embraces the idea. The U of A has been working through a history of issues with neighborhoods. The 2003 plan begins to address what the 2009 update embraces in working with neighborhoods and sharing their needs. The U of A works with the CCRC (Campus Community Relations Committee) and the CPAC (Campus Project Advisory Committee) The U of A avoids a politically charged or a unilateral approach. They will be part of a popular collaborative base where they can contribute technical planning expertise. They highly support the downtown streetcar link and developing a downtown campus extension as expansion venues like Rita Ranch are less favorable. The downtown option works! Growth goals are at least 50,000 students; maybe more. Currently, the U of A is building 1100 beds and would like to meet housing needs for 1st year student “on campus” Meeting the needs of remaining student housing is question. The U of A supports “planned” housing. The U of A would like to be involved in a public/private approach to meeting off-campus housing solutions by providing site selection recommendations, design participation and student referral.
  • Bob Schlanger, Neighborhood spokesman and resident of Jefferson Park Neighborhood Assoc. Bob embraces the idea. Would like to see perimeter development on appropriate sites the reduces the demand for negative infill development.
  • Holly Lachowicz, Council aide to Karin Uhlich, Ward 3, She want to know what the City of Tucson is already doing for University and neighborhood planning concerns. Thinks it is a good idea. She would like to be involved and hear more.  “…You certainly have identified an important issue!”
  • Steve Kozachik, Council Member, Ward 6 and Donovan Durban, Council Aide – They are both very supportive. Offered his office for meetings and facilitation. Steve strongly supports development of edges of historic neighborhoods and agrees that the current infill housing in neighborhood interiors is not a long term preference to meeting housing demands. A planning effort that outlines way that attention can be diverted to edges and more appropriate sites is a good idea. He understands that it would be best if this was not unilaterally driven by the City of Tucson planning department and that U of A input and community leadership is key.
  • Jim Gresham, Architect and principal of Gresham and Beach Architects, Architectural consultant for Tucson, NPZ submittals. He thinks it is a good idea. Has concerns about his involvement as City of Tucson NPZ Architect. It needs U of A support on quite a few levels. The U of A has however expressed support of the street car link and well planned university housing, downtown development/expansion, which does set the state for increasing land values. We talked about a precedent setting multi-story housing proposal at the edge of WUNA designed by Vint and Associates. The project is a statement for transitional edge development.
  • Mike Finklestein, Tucson Developer, Owner of Quatrovest – Great idea! City has no money and is falling short on a mandatory general plan update for 2011. NPZ is not a good approach. I added that the NPZ plans are putting many carts out there without a horse, i.e. ( no overall balanced plan ) How about a development authority with state approval to handle acquisitions. He thinks the U of A surrounding area is an asset of the University and the community. It is worth preserving from a standpoint of context of place and identity. Needs to be done carefully. Codes are ambiguous. He doesn’t agree with the hop scotching of mini dorms.
  • Cathy Rex, Architect, Tucson Planning Commission – Agrees with the need for a plan. Need alternatives. Land use planning needs to acknowledge housing and commercial infill at the right locations. She agrees this issue needs to input the General Plan.
  • JT Fey, University Campus Planner, former City of Tucson Historic Officer. He worked on the Conservation District 6 years ago ( pre prop.207) Sees a big disagreement between compatibility and development. Compromise is needed. Should not imitate the NPZ. of Tucson leadership is necessary. Need an objective that can lead to methodology and solutions.
  • Dick Eribes,PhD, AIS, Architect, former Dean and Professor at CALA. Wants to participate. Knows the image of the UA and what is needed today. He was formerly with university campus planning for one year.
  • Maria Gayosso, lead planner of the Tucson General Plan. Anticipates a delay on the dead line for the general plan update from 2011 to 2015 because of budget cuts. Pima County is already 2015. She welcomes any input from this effort. Sees a need.
  • Albert Elias Director of Tucson Urban Planning and Design – Definite need for this emphasis. In the wake of many struggling small plans; a larger broader focus makes sense. Downtown-UA connection good. Great for the General Plan. Sees 3 main tasks: Who participate? What is the format of discussion? What emerges and what are the goals and objectives? He is willing to participate
  • Mac Hudson council aide of Ward 1. Likes the urban emphasis and supports the effort. Mac wrote: Time for a New Urban Environment, guest editorial in the 2007 Star. From “intent” page: “the  intention of this website is to draw public attention and action to address the necessary  planning addenda, mechanisms, density strategies and urban neighborhood transitions that can do this.” “…Absolutely I couldn’t agree more! ”
  • Peter Dourlien, AIA, PDC Director at University of Arizona – Peter would like to be informed of future actions. Initially thought this effort could be a sub committee of the CCRC. The scope, however is too broad and focuses on entirely different things. He wants to be a part of the outreach.
  • Curtis Ench, Architect, Owner of Seventh Generation Studios. He supports the idea of dealing with the issues wants to be informed.
  • Adam Smith, Tucson City Planner, Land Use Code Committee. He would like to explore current assets that could enhance these efforts. Invited me to LUC committee presentation to see their work. The LUC committee added a brief study of the University Area Plan to their agenda within the last two sessions. Adam sees a few issues needing focus, including establishing a baseline of growth projections, identification of growth locations, assurances of architectural form, incentives for the right forms, current road blocks, and potential solutions.
  • Randi Dorman Indigo Modern, Developer Wants improvements in process regarding urban development. She thinks the many planning overlays are fragmented and ineffective. Thinks that the UA should have stronger involvement. Likes the focus on the area north of Toole and west of 6th Ave, but thinks its also fragmented. Restrictions, time and high fees are a dis-incentive to the infill plan. Process for residential cluster projects is difficult and a dis-incentive.
  • Corky Poster, Architect, President of Poster-Frost-Mirto, Its a good idea.  You should do it!  Corky worked on many plans that work off a new model of planning and suggested that a new COT area plan be constructed around this new model. His past efforts included optional overlays to avert conflict with prop. 207. Interested in Flagstaffs prop. 207 challenge. Corky’s Miles, Miramonte and Jefferson Park plans demonstrate the model he refers to as well as the www.downtownlinks.info project. The partnership objectives in the UA campus plan are a start.  Corky, says that ideas for luring good development is defining “single family” and providing development alternatives.
  • Janice Cerveli, Dean of CALA. She likes Corky Poster’s directive to the UA Campus plan; that the UA needs to look outside its boundaries for student housing alternatives. Agrees there is a gap in planning around the UA interface that needs strong definition. This was part of the 2009 update. “We need to create a private-public cooperation zone” . Likes the idea of the college engaging in the issue as a study. Need engagement. Need a rational Approach. Need a downtown presence. The UA should to examine a 15 year enrollment plan to define housing needs and examine its carrying capacity regarding expansion and relating to specific development along linkages to downtown, the street car link, and along its interface with the community. Need to know where housing will go. Janice was quoted in 2009 as saying that the University and the Community can partner with the City of Tucson to create a “Communiversity” after recalling how much of a positive growth difference this effort made between ASU and the City of Phoenix

Here are (3) links to current  critical documents in downloadable PDF.

1) Cook Study  2)  Caywood Analysis  3)  Historical Commission’s Response

Mayor and Council will likely vote to defer approval of the 74M  30% RTA plan for further study to correct serious problems on April 19, 5:30 @ M&C chambers.  Check for meeting location.  Under desperate inside pressure, they can also vote to move forward on the flawed plan.   Check out the above links.  The plan on the table  is a downtown killer.  The RTA is pushing an “effective” 8 lane plan that disguises itself as a 6 lane context sensitive plan. The 16  bus pullouts split over both sides of the short stretch invalidate  outside lanes 5 & 6 as “bus” lanes.  So, why does the RTA want 6 traffic lanes of in & out of downtown  at the end of Broadway?  This moves more traffic to a bottleneck @ 4th Avenue  & Congress.

What about the “downtown congestion stigma”?  The west end of the Broadway Corridor is an opportunity we need to jump on, hard.  An intentional urban corridor for both cars and pedestrians can be part of the destination; a collection promenade; a narrow continuous rubber tired shuttle system to all points with 3 minute leads.  It is an obvious extension of the downtown business explosion we see before us.  We can coat tail on to this economic phenomena; making a worthy urban destination more accessible to all.  Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 11.33.53 AM.pngThink about the 16th St. Denver Mall and then imagine an urban concept, even greater without  compromise to the vehicular access we currently enjoy; but vastly smarter than the blinded 75M 30% plan.


Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.56.13 PMIt has been said before, that in assuring the positive outcome of good deal. You have to be able to walk. The question here, is should we walk? We didn’t do it before and we suffer the consequences over and over. Here a $74M over-design makes no sense in the face of a crippling city budget deficit. Tucson needs to walk away from what’s on the table and figure out how to keep valuable staff employed and save tax revenue.  Here is some good reasoning for walking on the deal currently on the table.  Read this clickable excellent editorial by Bob Vint in the Daily Star.  Broadway renovation plan needs a redo   This a deal that many city leaders want to walk away from but has its argument as well.  Please view Tim Steller’s point of view which is not supported by this blog:  City’s New Broadway Widening….

Here is Bob’s full text if you want to view it on this page:  Something must be done with Broadway. The main entrance to our downtown from the east is shabby, neglected and ripe for redevelopment. It should be an inviting gateway to our revitalizing city center, an extension of that vitality into the city. How best to accomplish this? Continue Reading »

Please view:   City to decide which Broadway buildings will be razed for widening

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 12.18.11 AMApril 5th could be a day in Broadway Corridor infamy.  Residents contend Mayor and Council wants to approve the Broadway Corridor 30% design plan apparently against their will.  City transportation and the RTA seem to be in neighborhood quicksand.  The upcoming vote is a key milestone for final acquisitions of historic business and residential properties slated for full or partial removal.  Local residents and neighborhood leaders see the widening as a damaging vanilla colored 6-lane widening between Eulid and Country Club.  The Broadway Coalition, a citizens group representing surrounding neighborhoods asks that you attend the crossroads event on April 5th, 5:30PM, @ Mayor & Council chambers, 255 W. Alameda.  A public plan display preceding the vote is a week earlier on March 29th, 5:30PM, 450 S. Tucson Boulevard.  More here:  Broadway Improvements

A meeting of 25 neighborhood leaders was hosted by the resident based Broadway Coalition at the Ward 6 office on March 21st.  The meeting was intended to mobilize city wide support to turn down the 30% plan, ahead of M&C’s vote.  The coalition says the Broadway needs to be done right or not at all; that the improvement wastes 76 million dollars of tax money.  It damages local businesses and historic context along the Sunshine Mile.  Please view the Broadway Coalition Website  Continue Reading »

Screen shot 2015-08-26 at 12.14.06 PMThis the latest and 4th student Infill housing project under construction at the north-west corner of the university, bringing the bed count at this location to over 2000 higher end luxury student bedroom rentals.  Construction of six-story complex to be complete by fall 2016.  The Hub-2 is the smallest and half the height of the previous 3 towers.  Please view the link in the Arizona Daily Star:  Hub high-rise getting smaller companion near UA

Peach PropertiesMuch is still planned to happen downtown.  The latest subject for development are proposals by Peach Property and The Alexander Company.  The Peach proposal shown here is modern and more attractive, but destroys the beautiful tile adorned arcade that Melody Peters did back the 80’s.  It is built from bricks that came out of the old Tucson Livery Building that Steve Leal lobbied to save back in his ponytail days.  He managed to save the bricks.  You can view both proposasl in the the links below.  The PDF’s are large so allow some time.   Peach Proposal (PDF): Peach   / Alexander Proposal (PDF):  Alexander / Daily Star Article:  Hotel, homes, stores: Developers reveal downtown Tucson proposals.