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Rio Nuevo approves 4 hotels, potentially providing space for UA visitors

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Alexander Peet | The Daily Wildcat

UA parents and alumni may have more options for hotels when visiting Tucson as four new hotels may be built downtown. Currently, the Tucson University Park Hotel, formerly a Marriot, is one of the more popular options for short stays.

University of Arizona parents and alumni may have a lot more options when it comes to finding a place to stay during visits as four new hotels may make their way downtown for the first time in 40 years.

The Rio Nuevo Board, which facilitates construction projects aimed towards enhancing the downtown Tucson area, has recently approved four hotels. The AC Marriott will be the first of these hotels to open September 2017, providing 136 rooms. The other three projects are set to open in the coming years.

These hotels, comprised of a few hundred rooms, will provide space for Tucson visitors to reside. This may ease overcrowding during some of UA’s big events such as Homecoming and Family Weekend.

While these projects have been approved by the Rio Nuevo Board, the Moxy by Marriott, Caliber Hospitality and the Hotel Arizona are still in planning stages with developers and the Tucson City Council. The hotels currently pose issues regarding scale, financing and most notably, parking.

“The [traffic] overflow is a direct impact on the surrounding historic neighborhoods, which have very narrow streets,” said City Council Member Steve Kozachik.

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Kozachik is sensitive to downtown Tucson parking issues, as Tucson Convention Center parking has been less than adequate during past events.

“This is not an insignificant issue,” Kozachik said. “For Rio Nuevo to be running around saying this is a done deal, slam dunk, piece of cake- I’m saying take a deep breath.”

These projects are in a public outreach stage, according to Kozachik. Conversation in the future between the City of Tucson, project developers and the Rio Nuevo Board may facilitate solutions to these impending issues.

“I’ve just done too many capital projects for me to say this is ensured," Kozachik said. "These are conversations, not just assumptions, and we are in a conversation stage.”

While Kozachik recognizes these issues, the Rio Nuevo board has approved the projects through their committee's processes. In reaction to this approval, the board has begun to disseminate the news throughout the Tucson community.

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“Rio Nuevo is a separate agency not controlled by the City of Tucson," said Secretary of the Rio Nuevo Board Mark Irvin. "The City of Tucson has its own process.”

In conjunction with the soon-to-open AC Marriott, developers are working to build the Marriott Moxy. The Moxy, which will be situated in the heart of downtown, is expected to contain 109 rooms. This hotel is in the architectural planning stage, placing its groundbreaking around next summer 2018.

The Caliber is the second new hotel approved by the Rio Nuevo Board. It will have 125 rooms be erected on the Tucson Convention Center Grounds.

The reopening of the former Hotel Arizona was also approved by the board. This building sits on Broadway Boulevard and currently contains 307 rooms. In order to reopen the Hotel Arizona, major renovations must take place. These renovations are expected to conclude in time for the 2019 Gem and Mineral Show.

While the construction of these three buildings catalyzes some issues, Irvin says he remains hopeful of their completion.


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