Neighborhood opposes honors college project near UA - Tucson News Now

Neighborhood opposes honors college project near UA

Proposed Honors college project near the U of A. (Source: Tucson News Now) Proposed Honors college project near the U of A. (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A plan to build a 1,000 student Honors College project near the University of Arizona Campus has run into opposition.

The project has raised some questions from neighbors and the city of Tucson.

According to one city council member, the deal reached by the Arizona Board of Regents and the property owner is unprecedented because it exempts the project from the rezoning process, property taxes, and impact fees - a significant amount of money.

The owner, American Campus Communities in Austin, TX, wants to build a 1,000-bed dormitory and other structures on a full city block on East Drachman  Street between North Fremont and North Santa Rita avenues.

Grace Rich bought her home across the street from the proposed project 25 years ago. She did her research and discovered the university boundary ends a block from her home.

"We moved into the neighborhood knowing the university had boundaries so we'd be able to keep our homes forever," she said.

With the ABOR deal, the boundary now extends very near her front door.

"The Honors is not just a college," Rich said "It's a mini-city."

It will be four to six stories tall, looming over her property.

"It will ruin my property values," she said. "I may lose my home."

For the city, the issue is losing the money from impact fees and property taxes, but it's also about setting a precedent where other companies may be able to work a deal to avoid the re-zoning process anywhere in the city.

The council will meet behind closed doors next week to determine if there is a way to legally fight the deal. It isn't certain whether there is majority city council support nor on what grounds there could be a legal challenge.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed," Rich said.

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