Citizen Staff Writer
The Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson is looking at moving into the Tucson Fire Department headquarters downtown after TFD moves out next fall.
The vagabond museum is the only entity showing interest in the city’s request for proposals on the building at 265 S. Church Ave., said Tim Murphy, special projects coordinator of the Real Estate Division.
MOCA officials toured the building Oct. 28, the only scheduled tour before proposals are due Dec. 4.
“It’s the right kind of space for us,” said Randi Dorman, president of MOCA’s board of directors. “It’s the right size, right location and right configuration.”
The two-story, 19,289-square-foot TFD headquarters was built in 1971. In September 2009, the Tucson Fire Department plans to move into a 62,000-square-foot structure under construction near Cushing Street and Granada Avenue.
The current fire station was initially destined for use by the Tucson Police Department, which shares the block with TFD, but the city decided to field other proposals after building a crime lab on Miracle Mile instead of at police headquarters. The leasing party would have to accept the building “as-is,” despite acknowledged problems, including a lack of parking.
“We would like to use it as part of our headquarter expansion,” police Capt. George Stoner said. But TPD has made no move to submit a proposal.
Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, whose ward contains the Fire Department headquarters, favors finding a public use for the building to bring activity to that corner as the city is in the process of renovating the Tucson Convention Center and building an arena across the street.
The call for bids limits the lease to five years and allows the city to terminate it with one year’s notice. “The five years give whoever comes in enough time to really make a go at it,” Trasoff said. “And it gives the city enough time to find a (permanent) use for it.”
MOCA is looking for a permanent facility, either by constructing one or acquiring a building.
“We could probably do five-year planning,” Dorman said. “It would be a great next step for us.”
MOCA was established in 1997 but has never had a full-fledged home. It has relied on tenuous leases at city-owned or city-managed buildings.
The museum’s most high-profile location since February has been on the Plaza inside the city-owned building at 149 N. Stone Ave., where MOCA’s temporary right of entry expires at year’s end.
MOCA has leased city warehouse space at 191-197 E. Toole Ave. for $550 a month since 1997. Its office is there, but fire code violations have prohibited exhibitions since June 2006.
MOCA moved exhibitions across the street in February 2007 to 174 E. Toole into what is called concept : moca, where the museum’s artists in residence work.