Proposed hotel near campus stirs controversy
A local architect and members of a historic zone advisory board are at odds about a proposal to build a hotel near the UA.
Tucson Mayor and Council is set to decide on the proposal this summer. The hotel would be built where three historical buildings currently stand, in the West University Neighborhood near Fourth Street and Euclid Avenue. Steve Kozachik, city councilman for Ward 6, said the City Council has not yet seen any financial plans or design review for the hotel.
The three historic student housing buildings, which were nationally recognized as a unique district series of homes built in the 1900s, are considered to be part of one of the first suburbs in the Tucson community, said Val Little, a member of the City of Tucson West University Historic Zone Advisory Board. Little said the request for this type of redevelopment is not unusual.
“We come across proposals that ask for high-rise development in place of low one- or two-story apartments on a daily basis,” Little said, “but it is our job to prevent [Tucson] from being destroyed little by little and protect this district’s historical importance.”
Photo Courtesy of Vint and Associates Architects, Inc. A proposed hotel near Fourth Street and Euclid Avenue has created some controversy. The architect of the hotel, Bob Vint, and members of a historic zone advisory board are at odds as the proposed hotel would be built on the location of historic buildings.
Kozachik said he thinks the council has to sit down with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and with the West University Neighborhood Association to talk about the possibilities of designing a hotel in a way that preserves the historic properties rather than demolishing them.
“[The developers] got a real significant uphill battle on this one from the standpoint of process if they’re going to come in and propose that they’re going to demolish any or all of those homes,” Kozachik said.
Bob Vint, architect of the hotel and owner of Vint and Associates Architects, Inc., said the properties are so rundown that it would probably cost more to fix them than to replace them.
“Tucson has some unfortunately old, rundown student housing properties dating back to the 1930s,” Vint said. “I am usually very respectful when it comes to historical properties, but you can’t save every building, because then the land would become too cluttered and this [property] isn’t being used for anything significant.”
The board wants to protect Tucson’s historic landmarks, not only for the people who live and work in the city, but also for the amenities the buildings provide for the community, Little said.
Designated historic neighborhoods get a discount in property taxes, but the neighborhood must maintain a certain percentage of historic properties in order to keep the designation, Kozachik said.
The proposed location for the hotel is ideal because it would be next to a four-way street, near Tyndall Avenue Parking Garage, Vint said, and it’s also next door to a neighborhood, so residents could conveniently have their guests stay at a nearby hotel. It is also economically favorable due to its proximity to the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, which could provide transportation for hotel guests, he added.
While the buildings are probably important to some people, Vint added, he hopes people will also become attached to the hotel if the proposal passes.
“Tucson needs to continue to grow and change,” Vint said. “It is not 1935 anymore; everything around these buildings [has] changed, and now it’s time to improve.”
— Stephanie Casanova contributed reporting to this article
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