La Placita may get new life - Tucson News Now

La Placita may get new life

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It's been a running gag downtown for a long time.

People go into La Placita and are never heard from again.

Finding an office or business can be a frustrating experience.

It may be a gag but there is a certain truth to it.

One reason La Placita has fallen on hard times.

"It's tough to do business here," says the owner of Little Sicily Pizzaeria, Rosario Scigliano. "It's up. It's down."

He puts thousands of dollars of his own money into the business every year to keep it afloat.

Whether he stays open "depends. You have to talk to my wife," he says.

But now, it appears there's new interest in the colorful business complete.

"Arts, entertainment, culture," says Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. "There needs to be a reason to come downtown."

Huckelberry went before the Rio Nuevo Board, with Larry Hecker, chair of the bond committee, to make the case the project deserves board support.

There was no commitment but board member Mark Irvin said "it's too early in the process" to make such a commitment.

He left the door open however.

The University of Arizona's Jan Cerverlli, who advised the U of A President Ann Weaver Hart on downtown matters, also told the board why the project deserves support.

She says the University has a world class collection of Ansel Adams works, other photos, as well as a painting collection which very few get do see.

"Downtown would open up the collections to the public," she says.

She told the board, millennial, the younger generation has chosen the cultural urban center as their preferred lifestyle.

Companies and corporations all over America are choosing to relocate in urban settings to attract those upscale, educated people.

"Tucson is beginning to grow that way," Cervelli says.

Moving culture downtown would be an economic driver "creating jobs," she says.

But the decision will likely rest with voters if it makes the first cut and receives the support of the bond committee.

Hecker says there are a billion dollars in requests, but only $600 million will be approved.

"It's up to the voter," says Huckelberry.

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