Archive for April, 2010

The university area community, developers, and planners are invited to an informal meeting at the Ward 6 office, 3202 East 1st Street, on May 4th @ 7:30Pm, large meeting room, to explore the future of neighborhoods surrounding our University and its downtown linkages.   The ward 6 office is just south of Walgreens, east of Country Club on 1st street.  See you there.   This is a privately initiated meeting forum and not a Ward 6 initiative.   People with diverse knowledge of UA neighborhoods and development have been invited to share opinions.  There will some brief  summaries and discussion on the City of Tucson’s  recent downtown initiatives,  neighborhood concern relative to the status of contextual preservation and how the new NPZ ordinance is working or not working,  the University of Arizona’s master plan, edges, and more.  The focus is on an Urban University Interface; stabilizing edges vis-a-vis complimentary private expression of urban form that ultimately enhances preservation of our neighborhoods.  What do you want to see happen?  What are we preserving? What are our options?  How do we get this ball get rolling?   See intent statement.

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The April 15th Issue of the Tucson Weekly talks about a shifting paradigm along the edges of urbanization as building proposals interface with old Tucson neighborhoods.  The Old and the New by Dave Devine is a preview into what’s coming and what neighborhoods really to think hard about; its edges along the university and downtown.  Strong edges and definitive transition guidelines can ultimately strengthen neighborhoods and preserve their interiors.

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April 28th, 2010 –

On the 9th of March, 2010, City of Tucson planning staff was directed to analyze the concept of a Downtown Core District.  You can download and view a  PDF of an April 27th mayor and council memorandum;  Potential Downtown Core District Analysis, which summarizes the mechanics of achieving this overlay.

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The LUC committee met today to start hammering out the details the first phase  of the emerging Urban Overlay District (UOD) called the Downtown Core District (DCD).  The committee is targeting August of 2010 for adoption by M & C, with various study session in between.  Content categories that are discussed include 1) expedited review,  2) Uses and dimensions, 3) DCD modification of development requirements review*  4) streetscape plan,  5)  transition plan*)  6)  Utilities*

*  will be shown on the “DCD  plan” as is referred at this time.  It is intended to be similar to a development plan

The DCD is among several future phases of focus yet to come.  It is drawn tentatively within the boundaries of previously adopted Infill Incentive District. taking of the middle portion of the district between I-10 and SPRR rail line.  This phase is viewed as the least difficult in regards to challenges by the community


The Land Use Code Committee , initiated as a quick fix, code simplification project late 08, has found a stopping point for much of its quick fix work on reworking parts of the land use code.  That committee is now shifting gears towards a sub-committee focus on urbanization in the downtown core.  For the past few weeks some of the LUC committee members met separately to probe into what was also recently introduced as urban overlay districts, the  UOD,  as it is tentatively referred.  The UOD sub-committee has in fact submitted initial findings and are scheduled to meet on tax day, Thursday, April 15th  in the basement of 201 N. Stone ( room A )  Space permitting, it is open to the public.  You can read the UOD findings here in a down loadable PDF file format.   The finding start with identifying 4 phases:  1. Downtown Core  2.  Greater Downtown  3. Infill District and 4.  Arterial Focus.  The University Interface is not included.  Comprising a large and difficult focus of distress, lack of resolve along this interface continues to weigh heavy on many university neighborhoods.  What do you think?

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The University of Arizona is one of Tucson’s highest value assets. It provides jobs, culture, a sense of place and a destination point for thousands of annual visitors.  In that regard, what more reason would there be to preserve what this has represented to the community and what it can continue to be for itself and the quality of place that surrounds it.  The Arizona Daily Starr  published a piece by a highly regarded resident Architect, James Gresham called The Red Campus.  Read his  full article with hotlinks to its many architectural references.

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The Land Use Code Committee started as a code simplification project in December of 2008.  As the economy continued to slow development down, an urgency of concern  to grease the development skids started to unfold.   Adding to planned changes in the parking code, development protocol, and rewriting and reworking many parts of the land use code, more urban oriented issues were thrust into the picture drawing new attention to the adopted Infill District and a downtown urban overlay district .  Ideas for this urban overlay district, coined the UOD came to light after the Mayor’s January address, when he proclaimed that “…no economic development project is more important to our City’s future than downtown…” This kind of overlays are occurring all over the country.  You can see a sample in Maryland’s, Columbia Downtown Overlay. Tucson’s planning commission will studying implementation starting in April, targeting a public hearing possibly in June.  The objective is to establish an enabling ordinance for the UOD target areas.  The City hopes that the UOD concept will help implements the downtownLINKS project  which is centered around the final development at the terminus of Aviation Corridor, that dead ends downtown.  It now planned to wind through the Warehouse District Masterplan as it finally makes it way towards I-10.  The UOD concept has a lot of potential to direct development where it needs to go.  It can also potentially enable urbanization overlays around the University and along the new modern street car link.  City Planner, John Beal is looking at the University Area Plan.  That plan is overdue for a bold update that can address a transition strategy between the University and its surrounding community.

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