Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Second Unisource Tower still possible

Developer sees potential demand for 100,00 square feet

Tucson's skyline could get a new look if downtown business tenants contiue to grow.

Tucson's skyline could get a new look if downtown business tenants contiue to grow.

Downtown Tucson was supposed to have its own twin towers when the UniSource Tower, 1 S. Church Ave., was built in 1986.

What remains Tucson’s tallest building at 22 stories also remains the last skyscraper built here.

Tucson was in the habit of building one or two of what now are the city’s tallest buildings every decade from the 1950s to the 1980s.

A conceptual drawing was made for a second UniSource Tower that could have continued the streak into the 1990s, but any work on a second tower stopped underground.

“The core of the building infrastructure is in place for a second building,” said Buzz Isaacson, who has been the building’s broker and leasing agent since 1988.

The 20-foot-high stub with the “build to suit” signs southeast of the existing tower is filled with an elevator shaft, footings and entire foundation extending three stories down for construction of a second 22-story building, Isaacson said.

Isaacson posted a new “build to suit” sign recently after giving up his independent real estate company to become a senior vice president at CB Richard Ellis. He said interest in a second tower is “pretty quiet right now,” but he sees potential demand.

“Tucson is a growing community,” he said. “I don’t think there is anyone who will say nobody will ever build a building downtown. It’s a matter of timing.”

He just looks at his client list in the UniSource for tenants that will eventually warrant a second tower. They include UniSource Energy/Tucson Electric Power, and the law firms Snell & Wilmer, Lewis and Rocca and Fennemore Craig.

“As those tenants continue to grow, that will trigger demand for a second tower,” he said.

The infrastructure is in place for 200,000 additional square feet, which nearly matches the 233,000 square feet in the UniSource Tower, but Isaacson believes a second tower will likely be built at around 100,000 square feet.

“If a 50,000-square-foot tenant came along, that would trigger a 100,000-square-foot tower,” he said. “It’s whatever the market pushes it toward. It doesn’t have to be 200,000.”

Isaacson estimates building a new tower would cost about $300 per square foot, including interior finishes, or about $60 million.

The second tower never came about because the mid-1980s brought together the move to the suburbs for new office structures, such as Williams Centre, compounded with the savings and loan crisis and resulting major real estate downturn.

Reliance Development Group of New York and Venture West of Tucson built the UniSource Tower, but Isaacson has since sold it twice, the last time to its current owner Hub Properties Trust of Newton, Mass.

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