TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Marriott will hold a grand opening for its new downtown Tucson hotel on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
The AC Hotel Tucson Downtown, 151 E. Broadway Boulevard, is the first of four hotels which will be built in downtown over the next 18 months, adding 700 rooms of hotel space.
The AC Hotel is the first new hotel in downtown Tucson since 1977, but it seems now more are taking the risk.
Beside the AC, a Marriott Moxy will be built at North Fifth Avenue and Toole Avenue, with construction likely getting underway next summer.
It will have about 130 rooms which will be tailored to the millennial traveler, with many of the upgrades meant to attract the tech savvy.
The Hotel Arizona, which was the last new hotel downtown 40 years ago, will be gutted and refurbished with a $22 million overhaul.
It will hang the name Hilton and become a 300-room convention hotel.
Caliber, a Scottsdale Wealth Development Investment firm, will build a 125-room boutique hotel on what is now the east-side parking lot for the Tucson Convention Center.
Zoning has been approved but it still needs a final approval from the city of Tucson which is expected next week. The hotel will cost $25 million to build.
Some are beginning to ask if the new rooms could lead to downtown over-saturation.
"We'll see," said Rio Nuevo board chair Fletcher McCusker. "Nobody knows how this is going to play out."
Regardless of whether it's a rousing success or a dismal failure, taxpayers will not be on the hook.
Unlike 10 years ago, when Tucson was planning a 700-room Sheraton at a cost of $200 million, fully funded by taxpayers, none of these hotels are being financed by the taxpayer.
The Tucson City Council voted it down rather than burden the taxpayers with such a large debt and risk.
"The good news is this is not taxpayer money that is being risked," McCusker said. "This is private-sector operators who are risking their own money."
The taxpayer does help by offering incentives and tax abatements, but lays out no cash.
Rio Nuevo also chips in by offering tax credits and small amounts of seed cash.
The city of Phoenix, however, spent $350 million to build a destination Sheraton in downtown. Last month, the city voted to get out of the hotel business and sold the hotel for a $100 million loss to the taxpayers.
At the time, the argument was being made that it would make more sense for Tucson to build smaller, boutique hotels.
That has happened with minimal city investment. Both the city and Rio Nuevo will benefit from sales tax, property tax and bed tax revenue if the hotels prove to be a success.