Consultants: Downtown development must be easier to make most of streetcar

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Streetcar construction has included blue signs that remind people businesses are open.  But now, forums like the one Monday night discuss how to prepare for the development the rails could bring.

Some people among the sixty at Monday's forum at the Public Works Building said they're not sure that the streetcar will really infuse life downtown.  Consultants said that planning without investment is better than receiving investment with no planning.  Monday night they showed how the city needs to make development easier to understand and accomplish, which could take six to nine months, depending on what the council thinks.

Some residents at tonight's meeting say they're not sure the streetcar is the reason for new interest downtown.  But they find the change interesting and consider the streetcar to be part of it.  For others, they said that they need more everyday places to eat and shop.

"I think that we just need more, like, like, late night and cheaper options.  Right now it's kind of like a lot of more like, fine dining and I think it would be great to have more of like, smaller, cheaper things for students to use," said Alex Potter, service manager at Sparkroot.

"I enjoy walking downtown and seeing an old, what was a, what was a broken down old warehouse a couple of months ago being turned into an upscale restaurant.  I don't see any negative side to that.  It provides jobs, it provides tax base.  It's all good," said Jack McLain, with the Armory Park Neighborhood Association.

Right now, more expensive student housing is the dominant new development.  Upscale residential housing will likely follow.  Consultants with Poster Frost Mirto said that the city owns enough land downtown that a possible partnership with non-profit developers could infuse more affordable workforce housing there.

Monday's forum was the third of its kind.  The first meeting, two weeks earlier, focused on development in the 4th Avenue and West University area.  The forum after that focused on the U of A and eastern terminus of the line.  One more forum next week, on Monday, will focus on the west end of the line, west of the freeway.  That meeting will be on Monday, August 26th at 6:00 p.m. in the Public Works Building, 201 N. Stone Ave., Basement Conference Room C

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