TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Hotel Arizona, a downtown landmark that has been closed for six years, has taken the first steps to re-opening and serving as a convention hotel.
Jerry Fischer, the chief operating officer for HSL Properties, released a study recently commissioned by the company to the Rio Nuevo Board, which shows downtown Tucson can support a convention hotel.
Hotel Arizona is now at 390 guest rooms, but that may d rop as the hotel is refurbished and some rooms are made into suites. Fischer said on Tuesday, Aug. 22, it will remain in the 300-room range.
The Rio Nuevo Board voted unanimously to take title to the hotel, then lease it back to the developer for 25 years. The board will forgive some portion of the tax revenue, generally 25 percent, for the duration of the contract.
Fischer said the company has also been in talks with the Hilton hotel chain which he said has signed a letter of intent to brand the hotel.
The cost of renovations will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million.
The developer would like to have it open for paying customers by the start of the gem show in 2019.
Mark Irvin, who has been on the Rio Nuevo Board for seven years, has spent the past six years trying to find a way to work a deal to get it open again.
The economy and booming downtown, he said, provides the right moment.
"The district goes from a hotel that is generating zero to a hotel which is generating really nice taxes," he said. "It goes from nothing to something."
The hotel is in the Rio Nuevo taxing district which means it will benefit from all the taxes derived from the property and guests.
It's not a done deal yet, as there are some issues to work out with the city, but Irvin feels those are such that a deal is very likely.