Hammering in the new year in downtown Tucson

Hammering in the new year in downtown Tucson

There was a whole lotta digging, hammering and drilling in 2017. Still is. So I thought I'd post an update on the big projects and a fewer smaller ones that are favorites.


The Mark, on the north side of Broadway at Tyndall Avenue, is going to be student apartments. There will be several buildings, including one at eight stories.


This is another housing project, but this one is for low-income seniors. It is at the southeast corner of Broadway and Church. It is part of a large project to restore the nearby 1915 Marist College and to build new offices and a community center for the Diocese of Tucson next to the cathedral. The building will be seven stories. In a city where big construction projects seem to take years, this one is moving fast. The contractor is Tofel Construction.


The Marist College, originally a school for boys, might be the tallest mud adobe building in the state.


The plaza and parish hall on the north side of the cathedral were demolished and will be replaced by new offices and a conference center.


The long-closed Westerner hotel at the southeast corner of Broadway and Stone is also being redeveloped as housing -- for seniors and veterans. There will also be offices and retail.


On the west side of downtown, West End Station is the name of a 70-unit housing project for low- and moderate-income families. It is on the south side of Congress, between the Santa Cruz River and the Mercado.


A smaller residential project is the apartment rehab of the old Coronado Hotel at Fourth Avenue and 9th Street. It's a sweet building constructed in 1928.


I never thought I would live long enough to see the old Thrifty drugstore space redeveloped. The city of Tucson foolishly sold an entire block to Don Bourn for $100 in 2004. It was supposed to be one of the first big Rio Nuevo downtown revitalization projects. He tore down buildings and then did nothing. The city deal included no penalty for non-performance. Now, at long, long last Bourn is building what he calls City Park. It will include retail, an event space and offices for Hexagon Mining. City Park is on the south side of Congress between Scott and Stone avenues.


Another slow-motion project is the demolition of La Placita at the southwest corner of Broadway and Church. HSL Properties has said apartments and ground-floor retail will replace La Placita in 2019, but little has happened since May 2017, when demo was supposed to start.


A great small project, still going on, is the removal of the hideous stucco covering the old Wig-O-Rama building at 100 E. Congress. I will always mourn the passing of the mysterious store with wigs of every color and seemingly few customers. After many years downtown, it more or less vanished last summer. There are still plenty of hidden brick facades downtown. Here's hoping more will be restored in 2018.

Technically, the old Bring Funeral Home at 236 S. Scott officially opened in late 2016 with the Owls Club bar as its first tenant. But several more businesses opened in 2017, including the great vintage shop Bandito and Exo coffee.


The Royal Room, a hip wine and beer bar at East 6th Street and North Sixth Avenue, opened in October 2017.

There are far too many other downtown projects that opened in 2017 to name them all, but these are a few:

1. AC Hotel at Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

2. McCormick Apartments at 201 S. Stone.

3. Downtown Motor Apartments at 383 S. Stone.

4. 2 E. Congress apartments.

And there are plenty of other projects still under construction. A few of them are:

1. Seventh Avenue Commons apartments, just north of 6th Street.

2. Renovation and expansion of the Playground nightclub at Congress and Fifth Avenue.

3. Construction of the Caterpillar headquarters, near the Clark Street bridge and the Santa Cruz River.

4. Mordasini Villas, a seven house infill project in Barrio Viejo. Prices start in the high $400,000s.

Love locks, why, oh why?

Love locks, why, oh why?

It's official: Fall and photographers are in the barrio