Downtown Tucson Rebirth

Investment in downtown Tucson is fast approaching a billion dollars, a number that seemed unimaginable five years ago.

And it appears the number is poised to go higher.

A group of investors and bankers is due in Tucson next week to survey the possibilities, especially the 35 parcels of developable property along the new streetcar line.

According to Michael Keith of the Downtown Tucson Partnership a "build out could be worth two billion dollars."

The investment downtown has been a combination of public and private dollars but it appears more private investors are taking a look.

More than $200 million in private dollars have flowed downtown and more may be on the way.

"The reason downtown is successful right now, and will be, is private money," says John Wesley Miller, a developer who has been bullish on downtown for years. "What we need is a co-operative government, we don't need their money."

And it appears the government is co-operating.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild is scheduled to meet with the investors and bankers when they arrive.

"You put one business there and it does okay," he says. "You put two there and they start to do really well. You put three there and you have a synergy."

That's nowhere more apparent than along restaurant row on Congress.

People are standing in line to get into new restaurants downtown, like Diablo Burger.

"Something special is happening in downtown Tucson," says Derrick Widmark, owner of Diablo Burger.

He bypassed Phoenix and Tempe to expand his successful restaurants in Tucson.

"There's no place like this in the state," he says. " I think community was what it was about for me."

He says other businessmen and restauranteurs have embraced and welcomed him.

"It's been amazing," he says.

But not surprised according to Miller.

"This is something that has been coming for a long time," he says. "It's an overnight success that's taken 20 years."