Was talking to Mike Brewer, a friend who was very involved in downtown stuff a few years ago, and he and I agreed that downtown seems to be cursed.
The city of Tucson can spend millions and millions of dollars trying to revive downtown, and all they end up with is a lot of invoices and a lot of vacant lots.
The problem goes back to the original urban renewal scheme (called the “Mexican Relocation” by some) where a major portion of Tucson’s Hispanic barrio was flattened so Tucson could build its convention center, La Placita and a bunch of government office buildings.
A tale of two cities: the failed urban renewal of downtown Tucson in the twentieth century
…..Demolition began in 1967. Bulldozers erased a uniquely irregular street network and obliterated a rich heritage of adobe structures, some dating back more than one hundred years. Three hundred nineteen homes were torn down and more than one thousand residents were forcibly relocated. A unique three-plaza settlement was lost. A crime involving an incalculable cultural loss was finally completed.
Thousands of Hispanic residents were thrown out of their homes and businesses as a result.
Maybe before another penny is spent on Rio Nuevo or whatever the latest scheme is being called, Tucson should hire a priest and perform an exorcism downtown.
There are thousands of unhappy spirits haunting downtown making sure the public and private sector folks responsible for the destruction of Tucson’s Hispanic heart will fail.