Written By: Bud Foster, KOLD 13
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Rio Nuevo has begun to hold a series of workshops with business leaders, stakeholders and the general public over the future of the Sunshine Mile.
The Sunshine Mile is a stretch of Broadway Blvd which runs from Euclid to Country Club.
That portion of Broadway is being widened from four lanes to six lanes; a project which was first proposed in 1984, but has been scaled down.
Still, to make room for the widening, the city purchased millions of dollars of property, mostly consisting of structural built from World War II until 1975.
The plan was to demolish the buildings, but Rio Nuevo has stepped up to save them and hopefully, refurbish them to generate tax revenue.
Broadway is part of Rio Nuevo’s taxing district.
The hope is to find small business, which will preserve and re-purpose them and generate tax for the district.
The workshops are designed to gauge not only interest, but plans for the future.
The Sunshine Mile has been divided into five distinct areas, each with its own unique style.
Each of those districts, or areas, will have a unique workshop to try to determine what’s best for each section.
The middle section is known for its mid-century architecture and style. It became the shopping suburbs for Tucson during the middle of the 20th century.
Now, most of the buildings are old, and in many cases, rundown.
“If you single out any building along this corridor you can make a case that maybe, oh yeah, it should go,” said Demion Clinco, a former state lawmaker and historical preservationist. “But if you take the all together, all these mild century buildings, we create a dynamic order that fosters small business, that goes back to our economy, that supports Rio Nuevo taxes, that supports downtown redevelopment, that’s a win.”
Don Jones, the owner of Sahuaro Trophy since 1983, agrees.
“You’ve got to dress it up so it’s more appealing to the younger crowd,” he said. “It’s our heritage along this strip, so we tend to kind of cling to that.”
Jones has weathered many storms and controversies along the way because the area has been neglected for so many years.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “But you have to stick with it and hope for the best.”
Still, that neglect may have worked out for the better in at least one respect.
Because the city could never decide when or how to widen the street, most of the buildings remain just as they were forty years ago.
That means restoring them will be easier because so many of the facades remain the same.
“For me, as a historic preservationist, it’s about taking buildings that are not viewed as assets and maybe viewed as liabilities and converting them to community value,” said Clinco.
The Sunshine Mile is holding multiple workshops that invite the community to help participate in enhancing the area along Broadway. To RSVP click HERE.