TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The new downtown Marriott AC Hotel officially opened its doors and accepted its first reservation at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept, 21.
The first paying customers where Paul and Chrisi Cisak, the owners of Johnny Gibson's Market in downtown Tucson.
It's also right next door to the hotel.
The fact they ventured next door to be the first customers is indicative of the family spirit which is common among downtown merchants.
The hotel was developed by Rudy Dabdoub, along with business partner Scott Steitler. Dabdoub moved to Tucson from Nogales 10 years ago because he saw opportunity in the downtown area.
"Somebody had to take the first step, right? I'm glad we did," Dabdoub said.
The hotel is the first in downtown in 40 years.
Gibson's Market was the first in 42 years when it opened two years ago.
That means both took a risk which now seems to be paying off.
"It's challenging, especially in the beginning, figuring out what, how and who we were going to be selling to," Cisak said. "But yes, the risk was worth it."
"I think the risk will be worth it," Dabdoub said, while discussing his plans for a second hotel, the Marriott Moxy, which will be build just blocks away.
Both the city and Rio Nuevo have given their approval for the new hotel.
Dabdoub has two city blocks he is developing downtown and said the place that was pretty sleepy when he arrived has since come alive.
"At this point, we're past the tipping point," he said. "There's no going back."
Both Dabdoub and Cisak say the Sun Link streetcar opened the door for their success.
When asked if he would have built the hotel without the street car, he said, "Probably not."
"With the streetcar, with the hotel bringing in a different demographic, we can bring in some nicer things," Cisak said. "With some higher incomes, some visitors, I think everybody will benefit from that."
And like Dabdoub, Cisak believes there's no turning back.
"You have a market, you have a hotel, the horses are out of the barn now," he said.