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City Council agrees to make TCC hotel project a priority

Citizen Staff Writer



The City Council on Wednesday took in stride the indefinite construction delay of the downtown University of Arizona Science Center and immediately focused on infrastructure and the Tucson Convention Center hotel.

The council agreed in a study session to prioritize building the streetcar line and the Cushing Street bridge across the Santa Cruz River to link downtown with the West Side.

“We have to come back to basics,” Councilwoman Regina Romero said. “We have to make sure we’re investing in infrastructure to make sure private investments is happening.”

Councilwoman Nina Trasoff asked City Manager Mike Hein to revise the Rio Nuevo capital improvement program to set aside the Science Center and reach out to the private sector for development projects in conjunction with the TCC hotel project, which is scheduled to start construction in March 2010.

Mayor Bob Walkup was especially eager to make the hotel a priority to show organizers of the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show held at the TCC that the city is making progress with convention center improvements.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to protect (the gem show),” Walkup said. “If we have to reprioritize projects, we will do that.”

No mention was made of threats in the Legislature to pull Rio Nuevo funding, which comes in the way of sales taxes generated in the Rio Nuevo district downtown and along Broadway to Park Place.

The state Senate Republican Caucus, composed of 18 of the 30 members in the Senate, is meeting this week and next to discuss a number of state-funded programs, including Rio Nuevo. Sen. Jonathan Paton, a Tucson Republican, and Sen. Jim Waring, a Phoenix Republican, have told the Tucson Citizen there is no clarity regarding Rio Nuevo’s fate at this early stage of the budget process.

Neither senator said he has a sense whether any Rio Nuevo action in the Legislature will be limited to one fiscal year or the full life of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District through 2025. But Paton said he figures there will be significant changes to Rio Nuevo by the time the state budget gets through the Senate Finance Committee, the full Senate and the House of Representatives in the next six weeks.

City Council agrees to make TCC hotel project a priority

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