Pima County targets Benson Highway for redevelopment - Tucson News Now

Pima County targets Benson Highway for redevelopment

PIMA COUNTY, AZ ( Tucson News Now) -

Benson Highway is the target of Pima County's Brownfields Program which is a targeted reinvestment and revitalization program funded by the EPA.

It's a 3-year, $400,000 program which will provide environmental assessments to businesses along the corridor which may be sold or redeveloped.

"What the program does, it adds certainty, environmental certainty, to their property," said Daniel Tylutki, a senior program manager for Pima County. "We will do the assessment for them which is basically a due diligence document that a lender or developer would want."

Benson Highway is surrounded by new development which is part of the county's future economic corridor. 

The Tech Park, Tucson International Airport and Aviation Corridor are all nearby and are seeing a significant economic uptick. 

It would make sense to target Benson Highway Tylutki agreed.

"Let's be honest," he said. "I'm sure the folks and businesses here feel neglected and it's time we start to invest in Benson Highway."

That is music to the ears of Josea Solano, co-owner of All Makes Auto Repair at Ajo and Benson Highway. 

The 39-year-old Sunnyside grad, started work with his father right out of high school and has been on the corner for 20 years. 

"This building has been here since the 1930'," he said. "It was a gas station before."

That fact means there could be an environmental issue which would have to be addressed before he could live his dream.

"My dream would be to remove this old building and build something that looks very nice and modern,something that looks clean," Solano said.

Even though is business in in the city limits, the county would offer assistance if asked.

Benson Highway was once the only entryway into Tucson until Interstate 10 was built in the 1960s.

It was a thriving commercial center with vibrant hotels, restaurants and real estate which was killed by the interstate.

It has deteriorated considerably since, lined with abandoned gas stations, hotels, motels and boarded-up businesses.

The Brownfields Program will target those businesses in hopes of creating interest which in turn may create jobs, industry and a solid tax base.

"It won't happen overnight," Tylutki said. 

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