2014 shaping up to be good year downtown

"It was just astonishing how much happened last year," says Michael Keith, CEO of the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

2013 will no doubt be a tough act to follow.

The modern streetcar tops the list, but the two dozen or so bars and restaurants along with new student housing, makes the year the best in decades for downtown redevelopment.

Other projects came on line and will be finished in 2014, like One East Broadway.

2014 holds promise. A new Marriott Hotel at Fifth and Broadway, new student housing, a condo project on the old Thrifty Block and apartments at Congress and I-10 on the Westside.

How much of that becomes a reality is speculation but its thought in could top the $100 million mark.

"It's going to be a lot of good news coming out of the downtown corridor this year," says Ward VI city council member Steve Kozachik.

While Kozachik doesn't share the same exuberance as Keith, he still believes "the renaissance will continue."

"We might also see some less high end restaurants to match the student income that you're seeing down there," Kozachik says. And adds "more retail, non bars and restaurants."

Where both men agree is the importance of the Ronstadt Transit Center in 2014.

In February or early March, the city is expected to issue an RFP, a request for proposal for the four acre property.

It's thought to be one of the most valuable places for development downtown.

Because of federal involvement, the center must continue to be a transit hub but it can add residential, commercial and retail.

Whether developers are enthusiastic in their responses may say a lot about how others view downtowns rebirth.

"What response we get regionally or nationally on that, we'll know if we're becoming the next hot city," Keith says.

Kozachik says the ball is in the city's court.

"The burden is on us as a governing body," he says.

He believes it could be a barometer of how things going.

"If we don't tie too many conditions to the development of the Ronstadt Center and scare away all the developers, yes, then I believe that," he says.

But he doesn't want to go too far with that. He believes downtown already has a momentum going.

"The private sector has responded with their dollars and they are going to continue with their dollars," he says.

Keith agrees.

"You know that old adage that it takes 20 years to become and overnight success, in our case it might have been 40 years, but we've reached that point where things are snowballing on their own," he says