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Tucson Downtown/Rio Nuevo Thread


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Quite a bit going on in the news about Downtown recently.

The streetcar tracks down Congress in front of the Hotel Congress are down (although there's no concrete) and the Fourth Avenue underpass is cleared for now.

The old MLK apartments, which were public housing but are being redeveloped into private apartments and condos, are actually seeing some demo and other work.

I'll take pics of this stuff when I get a chance.

There was also some drama with the Casablanca restaurant, which served over-priced Mediterranean in an old mansion at Franklin and Stone, as it was recently locked up by the owner for failure to pay taxes, as a condition of the lease (they had free rent). The owner blames Downtown construction for the "90% drop in business," but both the Tucson Weekly and Daily Star gave the place negative reviews soon after opening, and most people I work with Downtown had gone and had issues with it. Personally, I didn't think that it would survive just because of the prices (Downtown does not need another high-end restaurant at this point) and the service level. They also seemed to never really get their sh*t together. I went in once and asked if they did happy hour and the reply was that they were planning on it, although it never really happened.

The sad part of the story is that the tiny Latin-Up Cafe, owned by former Irene's owners, in the same building was also locked up as a result, preventing the owners from not only operating but also retrieving several thousand dollars in equipment. That place has not re-opened either, which is a shame because it sounded good and I never got the chance to try it.

Also an article in last week's Tucson Weekly regarding plans to remodel the Downtown train depot's lobby. Central Bistro, the failed experiment inside the depot, could not survive even with the free rent and closed fairly recently (although the sign is still up), and now Hotel Congress plans to establish a market at the site.

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There has been a lot of supposed activity regarding the Post Lofts construction Downtown. The city council gave an ultimatum: start building or you lose the property. It's good to see that sort of action, and it seems to have worked as the developer is now supposedly starting construction. Briefly, it was going to have hotel rooms, which the developer insisted were necessary to make the project economically viable, but he has since changed his mind and it's back to solely condos.

Info about the project is available on their site: http://www.thepostlofts.com/, and there have been numerous articles in the Arizona Daily Star over the past couple of months.

I've been spending some of my afternoon at Ronstadt Transit Center Downtown waiting for the bus and have been watching the demo of the former MLK Apartments (public housing), which are being turned into private apartments. There always seem to be changes when I see it, but I never actually see any activity. Maybe they knock off at 4. I can't find any official sites on the project from the developer and have never seen any renderings. Hopefully they'll at least repaint it.

The new county building on Stone at Franklin (a block which used to include the ill-fated Coconuts night club) has begun construction. It was, for many moons, held up by archaeological excavation, as the original plot was built over a 19th-century cemetery, and the bodies were apparently never moved before the original buildings were constructed. I'll start posting pics when there's something to actually look at.

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44 E Broadway?

There was an article a few days ago that stated the property has gone into foreclosure. The office had sat for years, unused, and appeared to be unoccupied. One of several Downtown residential developments that tanked.

Here it is: link, although I read a different article.

This is in this current issue of the Weekly:

Missing Links

The article details one business owner's interaction with ADOT and the City's Downtown Links program. That program was responsible for the reconstructed Fourth Avenue underpass (which finally reopened about a month ago) and the realignment of both Sixth and Stone Avenues south of Downtown to two-way streets.

Also this: Link

Maynard's took the empty void of the failed Central Bistro inside of the refurbished train depot. I don't think that many people had faith in it, except that it was owned by the Hotel Congress guy, which gave it more hope. What's worked for the market is word of mouth and a weekly event that started less than a year: Meet Me at Maynard's. This is a running (or walking) event that takes place every Monday evening. It's been very successful. I know a few people who attend it regularly. Now that the underpass is back open, you should see more people not only at this event, but using the underpass to get over to Fourth Ave.

I also wanted to point out a couple of my Downtown observations.

If you haven't been to On a Roll yet, you should go for their happy hour. M-F, 4-6. Selected rolls are half price, draft beer is $3.50. Saturday reverse happy hour sees selected $1 nigiri and $2.50 drafts. Seriously, the best happy hour in town right now, because the sushi is actually really damn good. I'm not associated with the place, I'm just a big fan, and I'm really happy that they've managed to stay open.

Of the few dance clubs that I've set foot in, Asylum was the only club that I actually liked. It went under over a year ago, but their recently and seemingly randomly sprang up a new club there. The club was not only busy, but actually had a huge line down the street waiting to get in. Lots of pretty young people looking their best, so this is not Asylum (I used to go in there in flip-flops and jeans). I don't recall the name of the club, and that was a few weeks ago, but I do wish them the best. Downtown, and especially that part of Congress, need to liven things up.

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