Changes coming to 4th Avenue may impact street fair

Changes coming to 4th Avenue may impact street fair
Crowds at the 4th Avenue Street Fair (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The 48th 4th Avenue Street Fair opened its 3-day run under sunny skies, perfect conditions, and very large crowds.

But there are some storm clouds looming over 4th Avenue which could impact the fair itself.

Changes are coming to the area known for its eclectic, small town flavor and it's plethora of local mom and pop stores.

As the area becomes more popular, it's attracting more high end, corporate franchise interest.

Also, two new hi-rises have been proposed for the street. One is a student housing complex that stretches 15 stories, much taller than the quaint one and two story structures now housing the shops and stores.

Another is a seven-story condo complex at the corner of 4th and 6th, right in the middle of the current street fair.

The Chocolate Iguana, a sandwich and ice cream store on the corner for 27 years, is being closed and replaced with an out of state coffee shop.

When the streetcar began running on 4th two years ago, it was rumored the new customer base would likely impact the local businesses.

"I think it is very important to keep us local," said Constance Negley, the owner of D&D Pinball. "There are people from LA, Portland, Seattle, all over the world who say they come to 4th because of the locals, the character, the flavor."

But now the flavor of the street may be changing and along with it, the street fair, which draws a half million people, many of them out of state tourists.

"My worry is that if that changes and it becomes franchises," Negley said. "We're not going to get those people and we may not get the locals anymore."

Shannon Cronin is co-owner of Lindy's, a famous, local hamburger joint at 4th and 6th, featured on the Travel Channel and several national cooking shows.

Cronin says she's not opposed to the growth on the street "if they do it correctly."

Right now, the housing projects will strip the street of one of its most prized possessions, parking spots.

"If they can figure out the parking, that's the concern of everyone," she said. "'Cause we're already short on parking and it's going to get worse."

The street fair continues through the weekend, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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