Neighbors split on latest development around Tucson Convention Center

Neighbors split on latest development around Tucson Convention Center
(Source: KOLD)

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - While city leaders and developers celebrate the ground breaking on the long-awaited hotel connected to the Tucson Convention Center, nearby neighbors are split on their support of the project.

Barrio Viejo is just south of the TCC, across Cushing Street. Some longtime residents still refer to it as 14th Street.

"We don't care," said Neighborhood Association President Pedro Gonzales. "It's nothing but a bad memory for us."

The memory is of a community cleared out to make room for the convention center. Gonzales said city staff met with the association to discuss plans for the latest development, but neighbors believe change is coming regardless of their concerns.

"It's just a big block of concrete," he said. "We would've rather seen the families stay than be displaced. We don't care about the other side of 14th Street."

Much of the Old Pueblo does care. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said the addition of a hotel with direct access to the convention center will make the facility more marketable after years of potential events passing on Tucson.

"It's also going to be more events the community itself can come to and participate in," he said. "It's going to be great."

Kevin Barry hopes so. He grew up in the area and has lived at his current home in Barrio Viejo for the last eight years.

"I get really excited as a Tucsonan to see the beauty of my city come out and still hold the hometown atmosphere," he said.

Barry believes the recent wave of revitalization is being done the right way. The father of two, who works as a hydrotherapist, loves the welcoming feeling that greets people on their way into downtown, but he holds onto some thoughts of gentrification.

"That's a real concern," he said. "Even though we're doing okay, we don't make lots of money. We're working people, working class."

Any money offers to Barry aren't enough. They never will be. He's not going anywhere as long as he believes in city leaders to handle growth and development.

"I have faith in the peace of Tucson, because there are enough people in the city council that understand that a lot of us live here because our grandparents lived here, because this is home," said Barry.

Along with the hotel, construction will provide 350 parking spaces. Gonzales said he hopes for some assurance that the spaces will at least provide relief from TCC visitors taking all the free, neighborhood spots.

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