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Downtown development group may dismantle

Citizen Staff Writer



The 20-year dream for the Downtown Tucson Development Co. to redevelop the eastern half of downtown apparently didn’t even last two months.

Scott Stiteler, the financing partner of the three-party company, is meeting Wednesday with City Councilwoman Regina Romero to reportedly inform her that partner Williams & Dame Development has pulled out of the company, Warehouse Arts Management Organization President Marvin Shaver said.

Stiteler may also say the company’s pledge to invest $2.5 million to rehabilitate two dozen century-old warehouses for WAMO is off the table, Shaver said.

“(Stiteler) says given the economic situation, he will need to lower expectations,” Shaver said. “(The pledge to WAMO) will have to be renegotiated.”

Stiteler did not return a call for comment. Neither did Williams & Dame project manager Matt Brown, nor did the third partner, OasisTucson President Jim Campbell.

Shaver will be at Stiteler’s meeting with Romero as will a representative from Councilwoman Nina Trasoff’s office, Romero said.

“After this meeting we’ll know where we are,” said Romero, who added that she did not know the status of the three-party partnership. .

The City Council on Dec. 17 approved a predevelopment agreement with the Downtown Tucson Development Co. after a year of quiet negotiations that had not leaked out until the prior week. It was unclear Monday how this would affect the pre-development agreement, which was anticipated to become a development agreement in June.

The predevelopment agreement calls for the developers to present a concept plan in 130 days or by late April that will include plans, sketches, photographs and text that describes an overall vision for the 75-acre area that includes the Warehouse Arts District and the Congress Street Entertainment District.

The committee committed to spending $10 million in pre-development work over three years to lay the groundwork for housing, commercial and other developments in the eastern half of downtown from Sixth Street to Armory Park. The proposed area for the initial work was near Sixth Avenue and Congress Street, including the One North Fifth Apartments owned by Williams & Dame and the Rialto Block, where Stiteler is part-owner.

In exchange, the three partners would receive an option on city-owned land, including the Ronstadt Transit Center, the triangle-shaped parking lot to the north recently leased to Madden Media and the former Volvo lot at Broadway and Park Avenue.

WAMO board members learned about the development company’s changes Jan. 24. On Sunday, they had a retreat to discuss options to move ahead without Stiteler’s group acquiring the state-owned warehouses that are occupied by artists.

“Our goal is to keep the conversation going with Stiteler,” Shaver said. “I do really see this as a casualty of a bad economy.”

Shaver in a Jan. 26 e-mail to WAMO members wrote: “(Stiteler) did not say that he won’t work with us to save the warehouses and did say he is still committed to the vision of an arts district centered around Toole (Avenue).”

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